A new report released last week examined the South incorporates some of the least opportunities and harshest LGBT policies in the nation, but the majority of Blacks from that community reside in that part of the country.
The Movement Advanced Project (MAP) produced a report, “Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America,” examining how people in the LGBT community live with limited opportunities.
For instance, about 155 hospitals closed since 2005 in rural communities. Approximately 113 of those hospitals closed within the past 10 years, according to the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Among the locations, the center highlights as 22 hospitals closed in Texas, 12 in Tennessee and nine in North Carolina that created a decrease of options in health care providers.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people of color are central to the fabric of rural life in America,” said David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition. “With little to no attention paid toward the challenges and joys of what it means to be a LGBTQ/SGL person of color living in places like the South or the rural Midwest, this report reveals the heightened risk of discrimination for those who are both LGBTQ/SGL and a person of color.”
The coalition conducted the report with the Equality Foundation and National Center for Lesbian Rights.
According to the report, the majority of Black same-sex couples reside in 11 states in the South from Maryland to parts of East Texas.
Census Bureau data from 2010 highlights Black same-sex couples, but “it is likely that similar trends hold for Black LGBT-identified individuals, especially given that the majority of Black people live in the South.”
The Williams Institute, a think tank which researches sexual orientation, gender and other topics at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law, organized LGBT demographics on a nationwide map from the 2010 census.
The institute organized a chart on same-sex couples per 1,000 households. The top two majority Black jurisdictions in the state of Maryland, Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, ranked one and two with 2,672 and 1,917 same-sex couples, respectively.
The MAP report also determined people of color, including those in rural communities, identify themselves as LGBT that make up about 42 percent of the national LGBT population.
LGBT people of color also face discrimination not only based on race, but also sexual orientation based on limited resources and lack of policies in smaller jurisdictions. The recommendations from the report include:
– Pass and enforce nondiscrimination laws prohibiting discrimination in all areas of life including employment, housing, public accommodations, education and health care.
– Repeal HIV criminalization laws and work against the broader criminalization of people of color.
– Improve competency of service providers.
The report highlights LGBT people of color reside, or return, to rural communities because of “the closeness of the community.”
“Rural communities have always been home to people of color and LGBT people of color, but their lives and needs are often unexamined or overlooked,” Ineke Mushovic, executive director of MAP, said in a statement. “Comprehensive nondiscrimination laws are vital to improving the lives of LGBT people of color in rural America—as is blocking and rescinding religious exemption laws that allow employers and taxpayer-funded service providers to discriminate.”