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Entries in LGBT (9)

Tuesday
Jul172012

Same-Sex Families at Risk with Patchwork of State Parenting Laws

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Current state laws put many children living in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families at risk and undermine family stability, according to a new report out Tuesday.

In more than 30 states, children in LGBT families are legal strangers to at least one of their parents.

In Louisiana, for example, one would have to be the biological parent or legally married to his or her partner to secure parenting rights.  Same-sex marriage is illegal in that state and two men's or women's names cannot appear on the birth certificate.

Between 2 million and 2.8 million children are being raised by LGBT parents, and because of a patchwork of state laws and no federal protections, many of these children are at risk, according to the report by the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and the Equality Foundation.

The findings are based on a 2011 report, "Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequities Hurt LGBT Families."  This third companion report recommends policies and laws that the groups say address the changing American family and protect children.

In the United States, 69 percent of children live with married, heterosexual parents, down from 83 percent in 1970, according to the report.  Today, an estimated 24 percent of female same-sex couples, 11 percent of male couples and 38 percent of transgender Americans are raising children.

The states with the highest number of children being raised by LGBT families -- many of them in the conservative South -- are those with the most restrictive laws.

While states like California and New York have high numbers of same-sex couples, those most likely to be raising children live in Mississippi, Wyoming, Alaska, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Montana, South Dakota and South Carolina, in that order.

A second legal parent may be unable to pick up a child from day care without authorization or advocate for a child in school.  In these states, nonbiological same-sex parents cannot include a child on their health insurance and can be denied access to a hospital in an emergency or be left out of health care decisions.

Inconsistent laws make it difficult even for families from states where same-sex marriage and second-parent adoption is legal when they cross state lines, according to the report.

"If a couple in Washington, a state with full parental recognition, goes on vacation jet skiing in Idaho and the kid gets hurt, one parent might not be recognized," said Calla Rongerude, spokesman for the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBT think tank, and one of the co-authors of the report.

"If you are a New York family visiting Philadelphia, you better take everything you have and hope there is a sympathetic nurse when you have to go to the hospital," she said.

Children are also unable to access death or disability benefits or government safety net programs from a non-legal parent.  They can lose inheritance and other protections designed to keep them safe during times of crisis, according to the report.

"When we talk about ballot measures on marriage, we don't talk about the kids," said Rongerude.  "And frankly, they are the most vulnerable."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb202012

Study: Gender Nonconforming Children Face Increased Risk of Abuse

Comstock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- One in 10 children is at increased risk of abuse as well as post-traumatic stress disorder in adulthood because they are gender nonconforming, according to a new study.

Much of that abuse -- emotional, physical and even sexual -- is at the hands of their parents or other adults in the home, according to a study published today online, which will appear in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children's Hospital in Boston analyzed questionnaires from nearly 9,000 young adults with an average age of 23.

The children had enrolled in the longitudinal Growing Up Today study in 1996 and were asked a decade later in 2007 to recall their childhood experiences, including favorite games and toys, roles they took in play, media characters they admired and feelings of femininity and masculinity.

As young adults, they were also asked about physical, sexual or emotional abuse they experienced and were screened for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rates of PTSD were almost twice as high among young adults who were gender nonconforming in childhood than among those who were not, according to researchers.

"The message of this study is discrimination towards these kids is pretty severe and it takes place in the home as well as outside the home," said lead author Andrea Roberts, a research associate in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health at Harvard.

"And it can have lasting health effects on kids -- PTSD is a very serious illness -- It's bad news."

PTSD has also been linked to risky behavior such as engaging in unprotected sex and medical symptoms such as cardiovascular problems and chronic pain.

"There are stereotypes and society is pretty intolerant of gender nonconformity," Roberts said.

An estimated 1 in 10 children younger than 11 display some degree of gender nonconformity in their behavior dress and play, according to this study.

Transgenderism, where a child's biological gender and identity do not match up, occurs in an estimated 1 in 1,000 children.

This was the first study to use a population-based sample to look at gender nonconformity as a risk factor for abuse. Most other studies of this kind have been of LGBT youth.

The study sample was not selected on the basis of sexual orientation and comprised primarily white students.

Most of the focus today is about bullying in school, but this study looked at the home environment, asking subjects openly about psychological and physical abuse by parents and other adults in the home.

Researchers asked subjects questions such as, "Did your parents hate you?" or "Did they kick you?" or "Were you being yelled at or screamed at or berated?"

Roberts suggested that parents who are uncomfortable with a child's gender expression might try to change the behavior.

Although gender identity and sexual orientation are different, families often assume that their child will be gay and they can change them. "They become more hard in their parenting," Roberts said.

The Family Research Project at San Francisco State University confirms in its research that parental behaviors have an effect on their children's health and mental outcomes. Positive family responses to gender nonconforming children were "protective factors" for those risks.

Harvard researchers rated subjects to determine the degree of gender nonconformity in childhood. Men in the 10th percentile reported a higher incidence of sexual and physical abuse before age 11 and psychological abuse from 11 to 17, compared with those below the median percentile.

Women in the top 10th percentile reported a higher prevalence of all forms of abuse as children.

Boys, as a group, tend to be more gender-conforming in general. "There's a narrow band," Roberts said. "Girls ranged a bit more."

Dr. Madeline Deutsch, director of the transgender health program at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, said that "recall" studies are often flawed.

But Deutsch said she is he is "not surprised at all" by its findings based on her work with transgender youth, and said more research is critical.

"It really bothers people on a basic level when behavior is discordant with gender," Deutsch said. "When you have a child, the first thing people ask is not whether the baby has brown hair or how much the baby weighs, or whether there are birth marks. But is it a boy or is it a girl?"

She said that acceptance at home is "central" to a child's development. And those who do not conform to their gender can struggle with parental issues well into their 20s.

The Harvard study found that 85 percent of the participants who were gender nonconforming in childhood said they were heterosexual in adulthood.

"Our findings suggest that most of the intolerance toward gender nonconformity in children is targeted toward heterosexuals," Roberts said.

"We did find a strong relationship between nonconformity and sexual orientation," she said. "They were more likely to be LGBT."

Other studies have shown that children who are perceived as gay and bullied are at greater risk for physical violence and for depression and suicide.

Biased remarks and homophobia adversely affect students' educational outcomes and personal development at every grade level, according to a study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network (GLSEN) in its most recent report, "Playgrounds and Prejudice."

GLSEN research reveals that gender nonconforming students are less likely than other students to feel safe at school. They also are more likely than others to be called names, made fun of or bullied.

The Harvard study also emphasizes the need for elementary schools to do more to address issues of homophobia, gender expression and family diversity.

More research is needed to understand why gender nonconforming kids experience greater risk of abuse, and to develop interventions to prevent abuse, the researchers said.

They recommend that pediatricians and school health providers consider abuse screening for this vulnerable population.

Deutsch agrees that there should be secondary protections for gender nonconforming people in the schools and in the workplace, and institutions "at the top" should set the tone for nondiscriminatory policies.

But, she said, "They have finally started looking at places outside school, in the home."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb012012

'Knock Off’ the Hate Speech, Says LGBT Super Bowl Ads

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time ever, gay-rights advocates will launch a sassy advertising campaign aimed at football fans in the most macho of American venues -- the Super Bowl.

Four award-winning public service announcements feature various celebrities telling teens to “knock it off” when they overhear them using the ubiquitous line, “That’s so gay.”

The videos will be strategically placed on a screen at the entrance of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., to be viewed by Super Bowl ticketholders on Feb. 5.

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In its newest ad, GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, has garnered cooperation from the NBA and Phoenix Suns stars Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. The NBA is the first professional sports league to address antigay language among teens.

The campaign -- Think Before You Speak -- was created by ArnoldNYC and Toronto-based Grazie Media donated the airtime. The PSAs were funded by GLSEN, whose mission it is to ensure safe schools for all students.

Launched in 2009, the PSAs coincide with national concern about homophobia and school bullying and have received accolades from the Ad Council.

“The casual use of ‘That’s so gay’ is very common and rampant and often leads to more overt forms of harassment,” said GLSEN spokesperson Andy Marra. “This audience may not even see it as a problem.”

The first three videos have been distributed to local markets and have generated more than 387 million impressions and $25 million in donated ad time, according to GLSEN.

“It’s a new audience for us to reach,” said Marra. “The tone and feel is a good fit. The ads are not confrontational -- but very disarming and spark a conversation. That is the intention.”

Think Before You Speak features humorous TV PSAs with celebrities interrupting teenagers who use the term “that’s so gay.”

In one video, celebrity Hilary Duff switches the tables on two girls picking out dresses in a store, scolding them for equating gay with “bad.” In another, Wanda Sykes chastises adolescent teens eating at a pizza restaurant.

Last year, GLSEN unveiled its sports project, “Changing the Game,” which specifically addressed name-calling and bullying in physical education and sports settings.

“LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) athletes are in school and we want them to feel safe and come out and be open and honest about who they are. It's a challenge because of the climate in many PE settings,” said Marra.

According to GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate survey, three-quarters of LGBT students hear slurs such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently or often at school and nine in 10 report hearing anti-LGBT language frequently or often. Homophobic remarks such as “that’s so gay” are the most commonly heard type of biased remarks at school.

Research shows that these slurs are often unintentional and simply a part of the teens’ vernacular. Most do not recognize the consequences, according to GLSEN.

Ad Council research found that the campaign has shown a shift in attitudes and behaviors among teens and their language.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

1.6 Million Kids Homeless -- 40 Percent of Them LGBT

George Doyle/Stockbyte(WASHINGTON) -- A report released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, "America's Youngest Outcasts," finds one in 45 American children 18 and under -- 1.6 million -- live on the street, in homeless shelters, motels or with other families last year.

That number is up 33 percent from 2007.

Of those children, about 20 to 40 percent identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according to National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

In one study, 26 percent of teens who came out to their parents were told they must leave home. Others said they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused. The task force added that LGBT youth also reported that they are threatened, belittled and abused at shelters, not only by other residents, but by staff, as well.

Resources for homeless LGBT youth are scarce and shelters are at capacity, especially in New York City where the Ali Forney Center (AFC), estimates 3,800 youth are homeless, about 1,600 of them LGBT.

The most common cause of homelessness is family rejection.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov162011

Mass. Passes Transgender Rights Bill

Essdras M Suarez/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) -- A bill that protects transgender people in Massachusetts from discrimination and hate crimes has been passed in both houses of the state legislature. It's not yet known exactly when Gov. Deval Patrick, who supports the bill, will sign it.

The bill amends the state's nondiscrimination statute and existing hate crime laws to include gender identity and expression. Thirteen other states and Washington, D.C., have passed similar bills.

"Transgender individuals in Massachusetts face unacceptably high levels of violence and discrimination in their daily lives," said state Rep. Carl Sciortino Jr., a Medford Democrat who co-sponsored the bill. "This bill will extend our statutory civil rights and hate crime protections to the transgender community."

The bill, which was first filed in 2007, drew strong opposition from such groups as the Massachusetts Family Institute -- which "strongly opposes any efforts by political activists to normalize homosexual behavior and all attempts to equate homosexuality with immutable characteristics such as skin color," according to its website.

Roughly 33,000 people in Massachusetts identify themselves as transgender, according to an April 2011 study by the Williams Institute.

A 2009 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 97 percent of transgender people reported they were harassed or mistreated at work because of their gender identity or expression. And 47 percent reported they were denied a job or promotion or fired.

Fifteen percent of transgender people reported living on $10,000 or less per year and 19 percent said they have been homeless, according to the survey.

Hate crime statistics suggest transgender people are more likely to be victims of violence than other members of the LGBT community.

The vote came in the middle of Transgender Awareness Week, a statewide event hosted by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. The week closes Nov. 20 with Transgender Day of Remembrance -- a memorial to victims of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov022011

Study: Kids Raised by Gay Couples Are at Risk for Legal Discrimination

BananaStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two million children in the United States are being raised by lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender parents (LGBT), according to the 2010 Census.

And now a new study, "All Children Matter," concludes that these children have become the "collateral damage" of laws and policies that discriminate against LGBT Americans.

The report comes just as the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to begin debate Nov. 3 on the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibits the federal government from providing benefits to same-sex couples.

The study was conducted by a coalition of advocacy groups, including the Family Equality Council, the Movement Advancement Project, the Center for American Progress, the National Association of Social Workers, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and COLAGE, with a foreword by the Child Welfare League of America.

Laws like those in North Carolina deny legal ties to the non-biological parent, having an effect on custody arrangements, inheritance and Social Security survivor benefits in the event of a death of the parent who is a "legal stranger."

They also make adoption impossible for children awaiting homes in those states.

"Even if you are an opponent of gays and lesbians, the fact is, they are already raising kids and these are policies that leave them economically destitute or undermine their family stability," said Ineke Mushovic, one of the study authors from the Movement Advancement Project.

"It's just wrong, and I don't think the majority of Americans and policy makers really understand the lack of recognition for these families has this kind of impact and harms kids," she said.

North Carolina is among the top 12 states where LGBT couples are raising children, but also among those with the least gay-friendly laws.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Report: Gay Americans Make Up Four Percent of Population

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- An estimated nine million Americans -- or nearly four percent of the total population -- say they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a new report released this week from the Williams Institute, a think tank devoted to LGBT research at UCLA.

Bisexuals make up slightly more than half that group -- 1.8 percent of the total U.S. population -- and they are substantially more likely to be women than men.

The report is the most up-to-date assessment of that population and produced a lower population percentage than the 10 percent number that advocacy groups have used in the past, which was based on Alfred Kinsey studies from 1948.

The new data comes on the heels of another recent report published by the Institute of Medicine for the National Institutes of Health emphasizing the need for more federally funded research on LGBT health problems.

"Sexual orientation is complex, but measurable," said Gary J. Gates, chief researcher and a Williams Distinguished Scholar.  "Hopefully, this will begin to prompt some dialogue on what it means when we say LGBT."

Other key findings were that an estimated 19 million Americans, or 8.2 percent of the population, said they have engaged in same-sex behavior, and 25.6 million, or 11 percent, acknowledged some same-sex attraction.

Gay advocacy groups are hailing the report as a critical first step to inform public policy, research and federal funding.  They say the information is crucial in identifying health and economic disparities, discrimination, domestic partnership benefits and the impact of same-sex marriage.

The report was based on a collection of previous surveys in the United States and around the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar312011

More Federal Funding for LGBT Research

Medioimages/Photodisc(WASHINGTON) -- In a landmark moment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the Institute of Medicine on Thursday published a report for the National Institutes of Health emphasizing the need for more federally funded research on LGBT health problems.

Those in the LGBT community face rampant discrimination and misinformation when it comes to getting adequate health care. Gaps in practitioner education and overall gaps in available data on the needs, risks and concerns of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are identified in the IOM report.

The purpose of the report was to inform the National Institutes of Health on research needs, but many hope it will motivate a range of health care professionals to start collecting data and looking at the specific health problems facing lesbians, gays, bisexuals and lesbians, says Brian Moulton, chief legislative counsel of the Human Rights Campaign.

The report identifies dozens of health findings regarding LGBT health disparities, synthesizing more than 100 studies from the past decades on this topic.

Poor access to health insurance because of discrimination among employee-provided health care to spouses and domestic partners, high rates of mental health problems, including substance abuse, depression and thoughts of suicide, and increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases are just a few of the more pressing concerns identified in the report, says report committee member Judith Bradford, director of the Center or Population Research in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health at the Fenway Institute.

Less publicized health problems include a lack of LGBT training in medical schools, the special health risks experienced by elder LGBTs and a dearth of research into almost all areas of the transgender experience.

Many who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender recognize the IOM report as an enormous step in the direction of health care parity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec072010

Family Support for Gay Teens Saves Lives

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The suicide of Billy Lucas and other teens who were harassed for being gay has put the spotlight on bullying, but support at home may be the largest single factor in protecting youths struggling with coming out, researchers say.

Though it may seem obvious, research from San Francisco State shows that support at home can have a protective effect on the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youths, bolstering their self-esteem and reducing the likelihood that they will suffer from depression, substance abuse, or become suicidal.

Compared with teens who report high levels of family support, those who report low levels of family rejection are over three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and to attempt suicide. Those who report high levels of family rejection are 8.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide.

"We need to help parents learn to not just help their child survive, but thrive," says Caitlin Ryan, lead author on the study and director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 







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