Out On The Couch
The fight for LGBTQIA+ rights and acceptance has come a long way, but the battle isn’t over yet. Here are the top five challenges of the LGBTQ+ community.
Employment and Housing Discrimination
Not all states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender. And even in the ones that do, discrimination often occurs regardless.
It’s also important to note that the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, has been in debate at the federal level for decades. Many have sought to overturn it and strip members of the LGBTQIA+ community of its protections.
Discrimination in employment and housing means that individuals who are openly LGBTQIA+ have a tough time finding jobs and housing, and others can potentially lose their job or housing if their sexuality or gender comes to light. As a result, 22 percent of LGBTQIA+ individuals live in poverty, while 17 percent have experienced homelessness.
Close to one in five hate crimes in the US are due to sexual orientation, while another 2 percent are due to gender identity. While all members of the LGBTQIA+ community are at risk of violence, trans women of color face some of the highest rates across all demographics. LGBTQIA+ children and young adults are also susceptible to bullying and harassment at school.
Lack of Access to Health Care
LGBTQIA+ individuals are at a much higher risk of anxiety and depression. They also have a higher rate of substance abuse, which can cause serious physical maladies down the line. Yet many struggle to seek proper health care.
LGBTQIA+ people are twice as likely to be uninsured as non-LGBTQIA+ people. And even when they are insured, they face hurdles in receiving appropriate care. Fertility treatment and gender-affirming care are especially difficult to access. Many members of the community also have trouble finding medical professionals they feel comfortable with.
Discriminatory practices and outdated laws keep many members of the LGBTQIA+ community from achieving their dreams of becoming parents. Adoption by same-sex couples is legal in all 50 states, but LGBTQIA+ people who want to become parents still face heavy discrimination.
And adoption isn’t the only thing that’s difficult—so is having a baby through artificial insemination, surrogacy, or another method. In some states, only one parent (the “mother”) can sign the birth certificate post-delivery. In the case of couples, the non-signee will need to go through the adoption process for the state to recognize them as the child’s parent.
Social exclusion is another huge challenge that many in the LGBTQIA+ community face. It’s not uncommon for LGBTQIA+ individuals to be cast out of their homes and disowned by their families. They can also lose friends and other close relationships upon opening out about their orientation or identity. Many LGBTQIA+ individuals also face exclusion and harassment at school by their peers.
This exclusion can take a heavy toll on their mental health. And if they feel like they can’t safely open up to anyone, they may turn to alcohol, drugs, or other dangerous activities to cope with their problems instead of seeking the proper care.
Of course, these aren’t the only challenges of the LGBTQ+ community, and not all will rank these problems the same. That said, many LGBTQIA+ individuals will agree that these are among the most prominent issues facing their community.
We can’t change the world at the snap of a finger, but we can take strides to make it a more welcoming place. If you’re a mental health professional that wants to be a part of this change, the Affirmative Couch can help. We provide LGBTQ training for therapists who want to learn how to provide competent care to their LGBTQIA+ clients. Contact us today to learn more.