Tag Archives: LGBT Rights

Statement from American Geriatrics Society on LGBT Health Released

The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) has released a new position statement on the Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults as they are paying attention to the crucial role of health care professionals who take care of older LGBT adults. The AGS mentioned various factors involving LGBT health, which included Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index, which says that even though there are existing requirements that forbid discrimination in healthcare facilities, they haven’t all made policies including non-discrimination for gender identity or sexual orientation.

The AGS made a statement that lists measures to improve care for the LGBT population. Included are suggestions for healthcare providers to:

  • Create, evaluate, and publicize policies for equal treatment of LGBT patients regardless of age
  • Implement LGBT health training programs for professionals who treat older individuals
  • Support high-quality research addressing LGBT health and discrimination
  • Ensure that older LGBT adult care reflects the particular healthcare and social circumstances these patients face, from the role of partners and chosen family members in health decisions to the need for a supportive culture of respect

Statement from American Geriatrics Society on LGBT Health Released

As the older population of the US continues to grow, these recommendations offer a hopeful future for those older in the LGBT population. Studies are still indicating that compliance with current regulations, which are supposed to protect LGBT people from discrimination, is well under 100 percent. And, evidence indicates that LGBT patients who believe a clinician is uncomfortable or unknowledgeable will be less likely to pursue health care decisions that are necessary, whether the clinician is intending to create the atmosphere or not.

Alexia Torke, MD, MS, who contributed to the statement said, “Raising the bar for high-quality, culturally sensitive geriatric care in all forms and for all people is so important to creating an empowered public equipped to advocate on its own behalf and in concert with health providers.” And, “We–patients and providers alike–need to share and celebrate these recommendations, and live them in our personal and professional lives. It’s our hope they’ll be a rising tide that lifts all ships.”

It is incredibly important that healthcare providers are aware and educated of the obstacles older LGBT (who are not as likely to be out to their providers) individuals face, and make sure they are protected from discrimination and feel safe and comfortable speaking with medical professionals.

Planet Fitness Upholds Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Policy, Cancels Woman’s Membership

After a woman in Michigan complained about a transgender person in the women’s locker room, Planet Fitness revoked her membership.

Forty-eight year old Yvette Cormier, said she saw someone “dressed like a man” when she she walked into the locker room at Midland Planet Fitness. She remarked that the person was wearing a wig and “a little bit of blush”, but was “huge” and looked “very manly”.  She reported to ABC News, “I just stopped right there in my tracks,” she said. “It was a man for sure.”

Cormier went to the front desk of the gym to inquire why there was a man in the women’s locker room; the employee at the desk told her that the man identified as a woman. Cormier decided to take it to the corporate office and was told that Planet Fitness Policy is  “whatever gender you feel you are, that’s the locker room you’re allowed to go in… We’ve had lots of complaints about him but we told him to go change in a stall… if you’re uncomfortable with that you can wait until he’s done in there.”

Planet Fitness Upholds Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Policy, Cancels Woman's Membership

Cormier had asked if he (the transgender person) could wait until she was done in the women’s locker room or get a unisex bathroom. The employee then asked if she wanted to speak with the manager and Cormier said, “I’m calling corporate.”

Since Cormier reportedly went back to the gym every day through Thursday and told other women about what she saw, Planet Fitness’ corporate office called and told her that she was violating their policy of “no judgement”. After they asked her to stop speaking to women in the gym about the issue, she refused. Planet Fitness then suspended her membership.

PR director for Planet Fitness, McCall Gosselin, said that whatever gender identity a person decides to use will allow them into that gender’s locker room. Gosselin’s statement read:

Planet Fitness is committed to creating a non-intimidating, welcoming environment for our members. Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity. The manner in which this member expressed her concerns about the policy exhibited behavior that management at the Midland club deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement and as a result her membership was cancelled.

Cormier does not feel that the policy is safe for women and feels as if she’s the one being punished. Her solution would be to add a third locker room for transgender people, even though there are private changing stalls and bathroom stalls with doors in the women’s locker room.

Wal-Mart Opposes Anti-LGBT Bill

A proposal to keep local and state governments from placing a “substantial burden” on another’s religious beliefs was resisted the day after Arkansas was the second state to ban cities and counties from offering protection from discrimination for LGBT people. Wal-Mart spoke out against the legislation.

A spokesperson for Wal-Mart, Lorenzo Lopez, said the proposal-turned-law runs counter to its beliefs and “sends the wrong message about Arkansas.” Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, criticized the pending legislation in a similar way that it voiced concern about new local ordinance laws. The American multinational retail corporation includes gender identity and sexual orientation in its policy of non-discrimination.

Governor Hutchinson stated that he had reservations about this “conscience protection” measure backed by the House, yet he didn’t express opposition. He is interested in how the this would be applied and told reporters, “I can see a great deal of litigation coming out of this, and so we want to have a better understanding of it.” Despite advocacy groups urging Hutchinson to veto the legislation, he did not.

Wal-Mart Opposes Anti-LGBT Bill

Lopez  stated, “While HB1228 will not change how we treat our associates and operate our business, we feel this legislation is also counter to our core basic belief of respect for the individual and sends the wrong message about Arkansas, as well as the diverse environment which exists in the state.”

If enacted, this bill could support a case of an individual suing the government if they could corroborate that their religious beliefs were being violated. Unless a “compelling governmental interest is proven”, the proposal would prohibit any state or local regulations or laws that substantially burden religious beliefs.

LGBT rights groups are focusing their attention on the “conscience protection” measure, treating it as another attempt to allow bias in the LGBT community.

The law won’t be effective until 90 days after the Legislature is formally adjourned, which is expected to be this May.

 

Is Coming Out at Work the Right Choice?

Making a decision about coming out is a difficult one.  If you’re lucky, you already know you’ll have needed support from your family and friends. The decision about whether to come out at work can be especially risky for some. There’s no right or wrong answer for everyone in general, but it might be helpful to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros

You might become more relaxed
It takes up a lot of our mental energy to try to ‘pass’ in any way at work. We have to be vigilant about using gender neutral pronouns and possibly feel as if we need to behave in a more feminine or masculine way than we actually feel. Coming out could be just what’s needed to take the load off of our shoulders. Without all of that worry and pretense, other things can be focused on, such as building professional relationships.

You’ll know who’s not on your side
Those who knew of your capabilities before you came out will have no choice but to acknowledge it, even if not out loud. It can also stop any hate speech that might have occurred before because bigoted co-workers will know that it’s now personal.

You’ll find out who supports you
You never know, you might find out you have a fellow co-worker in the LGBT community in the next cubicle over! Plus, you might inspire someone to come out if they haven’t already.

Is Coming Out at Work the Right Choice?

Cons

You might get attention you don’t want
You might not want everyone to know. Some co-workers may think that your coming out is an invitation for them to ask personal questions about your sex life. They won’t care or even understand that it’s inappropriate. You might be working with some seriously hateful (even threatening) bigots. Of course you should be able to rely on HR to have your back, but that might not actually happen.

It could turn out to be dangerous
There’s a chance you might lose your job after coming out, even if it is against company policy. There are always cases of people making up false reasons for ‘letting you go’ or cutting down hours until there aren’t any left. Try to understand the atmosphere of your workplace first. There are states where you can be fired after coming out. Check out the laws first. It’s ultimately your decision to come out, or not.

Mormon Church Supports LGBT Anti-Discrimination Rights

The Mormon Church officially came out in support for LGBT rights in a recent, unprecedented news conference.

There were conditions though: The church wanted to make clear that they were not changing their opposition to same-sex marriage and the requirement was that the same legal protections would include all religious organizations.

This announcement coincides with an anti-discrimination bill that’s passing through Utah’s state legislature, seeking to ban discrimination in housing and the workplace based on gender.  Although the Mormon Church has promoted kinder attitudes towards LGBT issues, this has been its most obvious approval of LGBT rights. Fewer than one third of the United States has LGBT anti-discrimination laws, according to Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). Less state laws protect gender expression or identity.

Mormon Church Supports LGBT Anti-Discrimination Rights

Neill Marriott, the second counselor in the general presidency of the Young Women organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said at a press conference: “Such basic human rights such as securing a job or a place to live should not depend on a person’s sexual orientation.”

This is a step beyond the Church of LDS’s 2009 backing of a non-discrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City, as it is now in support of statewide LGBT protections. The condition of this endorsement is significant, though. The church is asking for religious freedom protections along with the LGBT non-discrimination legislation.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of one of the church’s leadership groups, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “It is one of today’s great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals.” His belief is that laws are necessary to protect individuals and faith communities from discrimination.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says they believe religious freedom should be protected, but that the Mormon church’s request would diminish the effectiveness of any protections granted in non-discrimination legislation.

Neutral Gender Embraced by University of Vermont

Recently, the University of Vermont acknowledged a third gender option: “neutral”, according to a report from The New York Times. They have agreed to allow students to “select their own identity” in a few ways which include:

  • Choosing a pronoun for themselves that will be entered into the campus information system.
  • Having the option to be referred to by name only if they do not want a pronoun used.
  • Selecting to change their first name, even if it’s not legally acknowledged.

Neutral Gender Embraced by University of Vermont

This system makes it easier for transgender or genderqueer students, saving them from possible embarrassment and confusion.  Vermont is a leader in validating a third gender, ahead of colleges across the U.S. facing concerns related to transitioning students.  These changes did not come without serious effort.  According to The New York Times, it took “nearly a decade of lobbying”, which included a task force of administrators, students and faculty.  Adding gender-neutral options to the information system cost approximately $80,0000 in staff labor.

Gender identity exists along a spectrum that includes a number of ways in which an individual may want to identify, not only male/female.  The existing contrast of the two genders more commonly acknowledged is so much a part of our society that even those who want to make the most profound changes are effectively trying to stretch out the definitions of “male” and “female”.

We might be used to using two gender labels to define ourselves, but an increasing number of people are open to the idea of including more than two options.  This is demonstrated on social media and dating sites such as Facebook and OkCupid.  Next to “female” and “male’, there’s now a tab that lets one choose “custom”.  Approximately 50 options are available, including “pangender”, “androgyne”, “agender”, and “trans person”.  Privacy settings can also be adjusted according to the user’s preference. Hopefully this will be the beginning of much overdue progress in the way of gender identity.

 

Florida Clerks Cancel All Courthouse Weddings to Avoid Gay Ceremonies

On January 1, a federal judge ruled that Florida county clerks should start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples beginning on January 6.

Clerks in at least five counties in Florida say they will end courthouse weddings so they won’t have to marry gay couples next week. Thanks to a ruling from U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, clerks must still issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The ruling clarifies that all 67 court clerks in Florida should start to issue licenses on Tuesday, when a stay expires on the judge’s original decision which invalidates the state’s ban on gay marriage.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” Ronnie Fussell, Duval County clerk of courts, told The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union.  “Personally it would go against my beliefs to perform a ceremony that is other than that.”

Fussell, along with clerks in Baker, Clay, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties, say they won’t marry opposite or same-sex couples. On Friday, staffers in Duval County married their final couple. This is until the courts or lawmakers decide to compel clerks offices to do otherwise. Additional counties will stop at the end of the day on January 5, before the new rules are in effect.

“In the courthouse, there was a room specifically for these ceremonies that taxpayers paid for, and now no one is going to get the benefit of that,” said Jacksonville lawyer Belkis Plata of Plata Schott Attorneys & Counselors at Law.

The Duval County Clerk of Courts Office has offered a $30 ceremony to be performed immediately after qualification of a $93.50 marriage license…until now.

Florida Clerks Cancel All Courthouse Weddings to Avoid Gay Ceremonies

“They’ve had a difficult time for years as it is, getting their relationships acknowledged,” Plata said. “Now that they’ve had this huge victory, now they’re being shut down somewhere else.  We want to help them as much as we can.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed Hinkle’s ruling, but there has been a refusal to issue a stay, by the Supreme Court, as the lawsuit plays out.

On Jan. 9, Plata’s law firm, in very close proximity to the Duval County Courthouse, plans to start officiating weddings for both same-sex and straight couples for the same fee as the clerk’s office. “It doesn’t matter what our personal beliefs are,” Plata said. “We’ve all had friends who have been in relationships we don’t agree with, but who are we to say who they be with or not be with?  If it’s the law, you have to follow it.”

According to Florida state law, couples in these counties will need to find a notary public, judicial officer, or an ordained minister to marry them because they will be without a county clerk to serve as an officiant.

 

 

LGBTQ Parenting: Recognizing Rights

The generation that followed the baby boom is reaching parenting age. Simultaneously, the sexual revolution is coming full circle. More LGBTQ people within that particular age bracket are being recognized with equal rights under state and local laws.

With the question of the equal right to marry tabled in many states, the question regarding what is, traditionally, the next step in a relationship comes into play — the question of children. Overwhelmingly, the most common question newly married heterosexual couples are asked once their honeymoon period is over tends to be about children, and when they’re going to fit them into their timeline.

In twelve states, it remains illegal for LGBTQ couples to adopt children. Equally frustrating, it remains illegal for the non-biological partner to become a legal parent by way of adoption in those states, as well as several others. While those twelve states strictly ban same-sex adoptions, the remaining states, by and large, have adoption policies for LGBTQ couples that come with caveats for petitions that straight couples do not have to process.

LGBTQ Parenting: Recognizing Rights

This bureaucratic obstacle course is flat discrimination. Heterosexual and homosexual couples share the same human qualities: love, aspirations, plans for the future, shared finances; that’s all a given in any healthy relationship.

Biologically speaking, the complex issue of children tends to be where the two respective camps split. The paths divide at this point. Heterosexual couples must make an effort, for most of the span of their relationships, to actively avoid pregnancy, while LGBTQ couples must make a concerted effort to pursue having children, by way of either IVF or adoption. IVF therapies for lesbian couples are expensive, time-consuming, and often a strain on the health of the partner who would be carrying the child. Hormone therapy is often a necessary precursor to conception.

And yet, the LGBTQ community is reproducing in greater numbers than ever before. With an atmosphere of greater social acceptance and a wider array of options, an entire generation of LGBTQ parents is on the rise, recognized or not.

Seeking LGBTQ Healthcare in the United States

The healthcare system in the United States today is difficult to navigate at best, and Byzantine at worst. Unfortunately, the latter end of the spectrum is usually what LGBTQ couples seeking health coverage have to deal with. From the overwhelming amount of paperwork, to the alienation of having to “prove” a relationship via notary public, or some otherwise asinine bureaucratic document, to the very real threat of being terminated simply for coming out in the workplace (yes, it’s still perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay in 29 states), finding the proper health coverage as an LGBTQ couple can be nothing short of harrowing.

The system is so deeply flawed on such a macroeconomic scale, that many members of the LTBTQ community simply do not apply for health coverage, even when it’s made readily available. Hesitancy with regards to being open in a clinical setting about sexual orientation and gender identity lends to the growing number of LGBTQ persons opting out of regular treatment. In order to avoid this type of mismanagement, or neglect, several resources are available to the growing LGBTQ community.

Seeking LGBTQ Healthcare in the United StatesHealth Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, formerly known as The Gay & Lesbian Medical Association, or GLMA, is an invaluable resource for the LGBTQ community at large. No registration is required, and any member of the community can simply log onto the website and search for a reputable LGBTQ-friendly healthcare provider.

The Strong Families Movement is another informative resource for LGBTQ families beginning the journey towards comprehensive health coverage. The link listed within this article is an instruction manual regarding where to start, what questions to ask, and how to determine which healthcare provider is right for your family.

What about those members of the LGBTQ community making an attempt to navigate the healthcare system on their own? The organization Out For Health not only tells the inexperienced where to begin, but contains an easy-to-access healthcare provider directory through the link above.

For those newly out, and ready to take charge of their health, following the simple tips and tricks in this list are necessary for finding a healthcare provider that provides a safe space, conducive to healing.

Neil Patrick Harris’s Wedding Helps Mainstream Gay Marriage

Neil Patrick Harris's Wedding Helps Mainstream Gay MarriageOn Saturday, September 6th Neil Patrick Harris (of How I Met Your Mother among other works) was happily wed to his partner of 10 years, David Burtka. The two expressed they proposed to each other over half a decade ago, and have been waiting for New York to legalize before committing to their nuptials. They are also the fathers of fraternal twins, who also took part in the festivities in Italy.

Patrick recently tweeted the news on Twitter writing, “Guess what? David Burtka and I got married over the weekend. In Italy. Yup, we put the ‘n’ and ‘d’ in ‘husband.”

Big names like Sir Elton John even showed up to perform and support. Talk show host Kelly Ripa of Live! With Kelly And Michael on Monday also attended, and spoke of the event, “It was a beautiful family affair in Perugia, Italy. They rented a castle — or I think they rented it. I hope we didn’t break into a castle and just stayed there. There were fireworks. The food was amazing. There were magic tricks, because, you know Neil is way into magic. Their wedding vows were so beautiful.”

Neil Patrick Harris's Wedding Helps Mainstream Gay MarriageIgnoring the ceremony, attendee’s and location in Italy, this is still huge news. Right now there are only 19 states that have legalized Gay Marriage and advocates are pushing for this number to grow. With recent reports from the CDC showing the gay population to be much less then previously believed, many fighting for LGBT equality felt this would hurt  their chances towards equal rights; that they would hold less validity because their community isn’t as big, thus needing less attention. Neil Patrick Harris has a big name in the media, however, starring in movies like The Smurfs and making cameo everywhere from Sesame Street to Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. He is a positive figure for same-sex marriage advocates to stand behind.

To be fair, their monogamy is also a contradiction to the character Harris plays on How I Met Your Mother, Barney, who is a womanizing player. The denial of their equal wedding rights would seem like a cruel joke when you consider A-listers Brittany Spears and Kim Kardashian have married and divorced people they were involved with for less than a few months.

This wedding is not only a success for modern America, but also love overall. These two have been together for years and are the total opposite of the sexually risky stereotype gay men have been painted to be.