NOW-NYS Council delegates voted unanimously to approve the following proposal which would create the statewide NOW-NYS Task Force on LGBT Initiatives, led by our Westchester chapter:
Purpose of LGBT Task Force
As one of the core principles of NOW, “fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in all areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, health services, child custody and military policies,” the task force would organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation.
Problems to Be Addressed and General Goals
1. Address issues of lesbian and transgender violence and sexual assault – to eliminate gender stereotypes and rework how we think about, advocate for, and discuss sexual violence prevention and support that is inclusive of LGBT individuals.
- According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, 1 in 8 lesbians and nearly half of bisexual women experience rape in their lifetimes, with the numbers rising when a broader definition of sexual assault is used.
- Transgender individuals are the most likely targets of sexual violence in the LGBT community. A staggering 64% of transgender people have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime.
- Though the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA) recently extended LGBT nondiscrimination protections in resources for domestic and sexual violence, service providers across the country still lack the cultural competency needed to serve the LGBT community.
- Additionally, seeking services or reporting often requires coming out as queer or trans, which raises problems of cultural competency in the medical and social service professions, along with general social stigma.
2. Address issues of discrimination in education, housing, public accommodations, and employment for transgender individuals.
- Much of the discrimination transgender people face mirrors that experienced by lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, but is often more severe. Many Americans have a profound lack of understanding of what it means to be transgender. Consequently, transgender people commonly face a wide variety of discriminatory barriers to full equality. Transgender people sometimes face difficulties meeting their basic needs (getting a job, housing, or health care) or in having their gender identity respected (like in the simple act of going to a public restroom).
- According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 1 in 5 transgender people surveyed report experiencing employment discrimination. In 6 studies conducted between 1996 and 2006, 20 to 57 percent of transgender respondents said they experienced employment discrimination, including being fired, denied a promotion or harassed. They also experience double the rate of unemployment than the general public.
- Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 have reported alarming rates of harassment, physical assault, and sexual violence. Harassment has been reported to be so severe that almost one-sixth (15%) of respondents in a 2011 National Gay and Lesbian Task Force survey, were forced to leave school in K-12 settings or in higher education.
1. Identify and develop relationships with key coalition partners and resource sources to expand role of NOW.
2. As New York State works to create uniform sexual assault policies on ALL college campuses, work with key stakeholders to develop robust policies and procedures that are inclusive and sensitive of specific considerations for LGBT victims.
3. Support and advocate for passage of the following pending New York State legislation:
a. “Protecting LGBT Youth from Conversion Efforts” — sponsored by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Senator Brad Hoylman
i. Legislation would protect LGBT minors from psychological abuse at the hands of so-called medical professionals who try to change their sexual orientation or gender identity by banning this dangerous practice.
b. “Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act” (GENDA) — sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Daniel Squadron
i. Legislation would outlaw discrimination in New York State based on gender identity or expression. GENDA also would expand the state’s hate crimes law to explicitly include crimes against transgendered people.
4. Coordinate with NOW-NYS and NOW chapter leaders to effectively communicate legislative agenda goals.