It has been a tough year for many people: unemployment, isolation, escalation in drug abuse, a world-wide pandemic taking so many lives, schools shut. Yet despite all the social problems of this year, there have been some bright spots in this trying time.
The LGBT community made some strides and should continue to do so with President-Elect Biden and the new Administration. Witness these recent victories:
- Human Rights Campaign’s National Press Secretary, Sarah McBride, became the first openly transgender person to serve in the upper chamber of the Delaware legislature in U.S.
- Ritchie Torres (NY-15) became the first-ever openly LGBTQ Afro-Latin American member of Congress and Mondaire Jones (N.Y.-17) became the first-ever openly LGBTQ member of Congress.
- Shervin Jones (SF-35) became the first LGBTQ person elected to the Florida state Senate and Michele Rayner (HD-70) became the first Black LGBTQ woman in the Florida Legislature.
- Forty-six states have now elected candidates who openly identify as LGBTQ.
- According to data compiled by LGBTQ Victory Fund, 1,000 LGBTQ Americans ran for office. 334 of 782 general election candidates won their November races.
LGBT Community During COVID-19. The LGBTQ Community was more likely to lack the resources to effectively combat COVID. It was less likely to work in an industry affected by the virus. HRC ‘s 2020 Healthcare Equality Index highlighted healthcare institutions that are adopting LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. The legislative and policy changes resulted in:
- Additional $90 million for the Ryan White Care Act for HIV/AIDS care and treatment.
- Additional $65 million for housing for people living with AIDS.
- Additional $25 million to carry out activities under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
Winnings of the U.S. Supreme Court for LGBTQ Workers:
- The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Bostock v. Clayton County that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil RIGHTS ACT of 1964.
- In the state of Virginia, the Virginia Values Act was passed last summer. It was the first state in the South to have non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, the first state in 27 years to add a prohibition on discrimination in public accommodations, and add both sexual orientation and gender identity to existing non-discrimination law in over a decade.
Undoing Trump’s Actions re: LGBT
- The Transgender Community, particularly, those of color, is the most marginalized of the LGBT community and is the most victimized. President-elect Biden plans to reverse Trump’s policies and allocate federal resources to help curtail this violence.
He will help the Transgender community by:
- Lifting Trump’s near-total ban on military service for transgender People.
- Reinstating Obama administration guidance directing public schools to allow transgender students to access bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams in accordance with their gender identity.
Biden said his top legislative priority for LGBTQ issues is the Equality Act, passed by the House of Representatives. It would extend to all 50 states the comprehensive anti-bias protections afforded to LGBTQ people in 21 states. The Equality Act covers housing, public accommodations and public services.
Other advances in LGBT rights include:
- 370 religious leaders called an end to conversion therapy and anti-LGBTQ+ violence. Most of the U.S. states now ban conversion therapy.
- According to GLSEN, there are more representations of same-sex couples on television and the movies. Hallmark shows a holiday-themed Ritz cracker commercial that features a gay couple. Jonathan Bennett stars in Hallmark’s 1st LGBT holiday movie.
- Oscars introduced an LGBT+ representation quota.
- Fueled by its popularity, Schitt’s Creek is a show with Daniel Levy as Director, Producer, Writer, and star who portrays a non-binary character.
In other parts of the world, the year ended on a positive note: Marriage equality came to Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Costa Rica. Gabon and Bhutan decriminalized homosexuality. The United Kingdom lifted restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.