Thursday, October 6, 2011

Occupy Boston: MassEquality Statement In Support

reprinted from MassEquality's website

MassEquality Statement In Support of Occupy Boston

 BOSTON, October 6, 2011—The LGBT community is disproportionately represented among those who are victims of the nation’s ongoing economic crisis. We are the un- and underemployed. We are the un- and underinsured. We are the homeless and under-housed. And we are disproportionately impacted by government-sanctioned discrimination and denial of resources and protections.
If any group understands the plight of the 99% given voice by Occupy Boston, it’s the Commonwealth’s LGBT 6.5%:
  • 25 to 40% of our homeless, unaccompanied youth are LGBT. Of those, 73% are homeless and unaccompanied because their families rejected them.[i] Among all LGBT youth in Massachusetts, youth are four times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide and that likelihood doubles when their families reject them.
  • 15% of transgender respondents in Massachusetts to a national survey reported a household income of less than $10,000 compared to just 3% of the general population. And 90% reported experiencing harassment and discrimination in employment, 20% reported that they had lost a job due to anti-transgender bias,  and 14% reported being refused medical care because of their gender identity. Attempted suicide is a public health crisis – 22 times the rate of the general population. [ii]
  • Federal law expressly denies legally married same-sex couples access to spousal social security and other health, tax, immigration and retirement-related protections for families.
  • The mere fact of living as an LGBT person in Massachusetts correlates to higher stress and poorer health outcomes.[iii]
“Occupy Boston is giving voice to Massachusetts residents who are suffering as a result of the economic crisis. That includes tens of thousands of LGBT residents,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini, Esq. “The stereotype that the LGBT community is wealthy and privileged is a myth. The assumption that winning the freedom to marry ended anti-LGBT discrimination and disadvantage is flat out wrong. The fact is, our community continues to disproportionately suffer from discrimination, economic uncertainty, and stigma – some of it, government-sanctioned. MassEquality strongly calls on lawmakers to promptly enact four legislative reforms that would immediately ease the suffering experienced by our community.”
MassEquality urges Massachusetts lawmakers to take the following four actions:
1. Pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, which would prohibit discrimination against transgender people.This bill would cost Massachusetts nothing, but would level the playing field while saving the state millions in public assistance benefits and lost taxes.
2. Pass “An Act Providing Housing and Support Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.”
3. Pass “An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools,” filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley to amend the state’s anti-bullying law to include explicit protections for LGBT youth in schools.[iv]
4. Pass “An Act to Promote Equity in Pension Benefits,” which would fix a technicality in the state pension system that impacts state university employees who selected their pension retirement plan before they were permitted to legally marry.

MassEquality works to ensure that every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in Massachusetts is protected from cradle to grave—with equal rights and opportunities in school, in marriage and family life, at work and in retirement.

[i] Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education;American Journal of Public Health
[ii]National Transgender Discrimination Survey
[iii] DPH study
[iv] As MassEquality noted in its testimony before the Commission on Bullying Prevention, it is well documented that LGBT students and those who have LGBT parents are among the most frequent targets of bullying in schools.

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