Welcome to week 8 of the LGBTQ+ Equity Challenge! For the past 2 weeks, we have talked about education and healthcare. You can review any of the past week’s materials on the challenge website. This week we will be briefly diving into some of the other challenges the LGBTQ+ community still faces today.

If you have not filled out the weekly feedback, please do so here!
Week 8: Current Challenges
  • Is there anything you learned this week that was shocking to you?
  • What barriers do you believe still exist that prevent full protections for LGBTQ+ individuals?
  • Are there ways you can help the LGBTQ+ community?
Legal Protection for LGBTQ+ Individuals 
LGBTQ+ Americans still do not have equal protection under the law in our country. Discrimination, denial of services, and more are still legal across our nation. A study published in February 2022, shows that there could be more LGBTQ+ Americans than we previously thought. This study shows that a little over 7% of the American population identifies as LGBTQ+.
Here are just some of the discriminatory laws affecting those 20+ million Americans, 

  • 35 states still allow the use of the Gay/Trans Panic Defense. These defenses seek to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for an attacker’s violent reaction upon learning that the victim is either gay or transgender.  
  • The Williams Institute shows that "no state recognizes gay and trans panic defenses as freestanding defenses under their respective penal codes," but defendants have used panic defenses in conjunction with other defense strategies to attempt to reduce the severity of their charges or sentencing. 
  • 6 states have targeted religious exemptions that permit medical professionals to decline to serve LGBTQ+ clients.
  • In 18 states it is legal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in housing. 
  • 21 states have no protections for LGBTQ+ people in public accommodations. Meaning they can be refused service, denied entry, or otherwise discriminated against in public places based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  
  • 35 states do not have protections for LGBTQ+ people in credit and lending. This means they could be denied credit and lending services, opening a bank account, or taking out a loan, simply because they are LGBTQ+.  
  • 19 states have no explicit protections against discrimination in adoption based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 11 states permit state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families, including LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs.  
  • 18 states have no explicit protections against discrimination in foster care based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  
  • 11 states permit state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place and provide services to children and families, including LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs. 
The above bullet points represent some current laws in the United States. From discrimination in housing, adoption, healthcare, public accommodations, education, banking, and beyond, LGBTQ+ Americans are second-class citizens in the eyes of the law. Even though a majority of Americans, regardless of where they live, their age, political alignment, or religious background, support non-discrimination laws.
States Legislatures 
In 2021, there was a record-breaking 250+ anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures (see the breakdown). Many of these bills/laws target transgender youth's access to healthcare or attempt to prevent them from participating in sports. Wisconsin has introduced legislation against transgender athletes, and transgender healthcare. The introduced healthcare bill “allows district attorneys to prosecute doctors who ignore the ban and cuts public funding to facilities that offer the surgeries. Health insurers also would be banned from covering such procedures under the proposal.” 
There are many claims that trans women have an unfair advantage in sports, but evidence suggests this is not true. Get the facts HERE and HERE. These bills/laws are extremely harmful. Take this quote from a Washington Post article,  
“Prejudice, stigma, and discrimination against LGBT people raise the risks of depression, anxiety, suicidality, PTSD, and other forms of psychological distress. Discrimination is linked to health harms even for those who are not directly exposed to it because the presence of discrimination, stigma, prejudice, and fear of victimization create a hostile social climate that contributes to what researchers call “minority stress.” Even for the most resilient, exposure to discrimination — experiencing it or fearing it — is hurtful.”  
Targeting marginalized communities in sports is not a new idea. Take this snippet from Scientific American,
“It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time people have tried to discredit the success of athletes from marginalized minorities based on half-baked claims of 'science.' There is a long history of similarly painting Black athletes as “genetically superior” in an attempt to downplay the effects of their hard work and training.”
Despite the various challenges in the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to note some of the amazing things that are happening in Brown County. Green Bay recently received its highest score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (you can read Green Bay’s scorecard here). The University of Wisconsin Green Bay recently launched Our Voices: LGBTQ+ Stories of Northeastern Wisconsin. This is the only Northeastern Wisconsin LGBTQ+ historical archive recording the history, voices, and stories of the LGBTQ+ community in this region. Napalese Lounge and Grille, Wisconsin’s second-longest-running LGBTQ+ bar, recently unveiled a new LGBTQ+ mural that serves as a permanent symbol for queer individuals in Green Bay. You can hear more about things happening in Brown County in the below Local Listening section. 
These, and other initiatives, are helping improve the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals in Brown County. However, there are still many areas of improvement to focus on, including, but not limited to, more affirming healthcare services for transgender individuals, more inclusive workplaces and community spaces, more LGBTQ+ visibility, and physical community spaces where LGBTQ+ folk can gather.
With the questions and information above in mind, do at least one of the following:
Click through this interactive map to see all the laws affecting LGBTQ+ individuals in America. At the top of the page, hover over the "choose an issue," menu item and explore the issues. 

The anti-LGBTQ Bills of 2022 Explained (from February 11th, 2022)

Local Listen
Your Local Trans Update (13 minutes) 
Martha, a local transgender/gender diverse advocate, talks about the success, challenges, and future of the trans community in Green Bay. 
Learn more about the mural here!