Black* members of the LGBT community experience stark social, economic and health disparities compared to the general population and their straight black and white LGBT counterparts, according to a Center for American Progress report.
- Families headed by black same-sex couples are more likely to raise their children in poverty.
- Black lesbians are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases.
- Black gay and transgender youth are more likely to end up homeless and living on the streets.
CAP recommends overcoming these issues with a policy agenda that “seeks to understand and tackle the structural barriers—discriminatory systems, conditions and institutions around socioeconomic status, race, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity—that perpetuate negative economic, health, and other life outcomes among this population.” The report also suggests gay policy priorities, like marriage equality, underserve many populations within the LGBT community.
“Despite significant gains in securing basic rights for LGBT Americans over the past decade, the quality of life for black gay and transgender Americans has remained virtually unchanged,” Aisha Moodie-Mills, CAP advisor on LGBT policy and racial justice, wrote in a statement. “Marriage equality is vital to overall progress, but marriage alone is not a silver bullet to reduce the disparities black gay and transgender populations face.”
In the report, CAP made the following recommendations to overcome issues faced by the people of color in the LGBT community:
CAP recommendations for addressing economic insecurity
- Adopt inclusive family policies and safety net programs.
- Pass housing anti-discrimination laws.
- Take a comprehensive federal approach to gay and transgender youth homelessness.
- Make consumer financial protection a priority.
- Pass employee non-discrimination laws.
- Support gay and transgender entrepreneurs.
- Legally recognize same-sex relationships.
CAP recommendations for addressing low educational attainment
- Adopt school safety policies.
- Enforce existing federal civil rights laws.
- Review school discipline policies.
CAP recommendations for addressing health and wellness disparities
- Implement the Affordable Care Act.
- Work toward health equity.
- Examine domestic violence among same-sex couples.
But the data on race and the LGBT community is limited, as few demographic surveys ask respondents their sexual orientation and gender identity. And without solid data, creating credible, persuasive policies is difficult. In response, CAP launched the Fighting Injustice to Reach Equality initiative, which makes policy recommendations to eliminate disparities faced by gay and transgender people of color.
My guess is, if surveys also enumerated other identities, like ability and citizenship status, researchers would find even greater social, economic, and health disparities for LGBT people of color who fall into those oppressed identities as well.
*Black is the racial category used in the CAP report.