LGBT Community to be hit hard by Sequester

bohnersmile

LGBT and HIV and AIDS community leaders are bracing themselves for massive budget cuts if leaders in Washington fail to strike a deal before the clock strikes midnight.

A sequester would mean that the government would be forced to shave some $1.2 trillion from the federal budget. According to Huffpost,”The sequester will affect government spending across the board. The military will see $550 billion in cuts, drawing funds away from national security and military operations. On the domestic side, cuts will affect health care, education, law enforcement, disaster relief, unemployment benefits, non-profit organization funds, scientific research and more.”

Crosby Burns, research associate on LGBT issues for the Center for American Progress,  tells the Washington Blade the community has a lot to lose if some sort of compromise isn’t reached,”Politicians are literally playing games with people’s lives. If the sequester happens, AIDS patients will lose access to life-saving drugs, programs that combat hate crimes and domestic violence in the LGBT community will be slashed, LGBT homeless youth will have to remain on the streets if homeless shelters receive less funding, and LGBT workers who have been discriminated against will see their cases go uninvestigated.”

Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like the sequester may happen. A last minute meeting between the White House and congressional leaders on Friday morning failed to produce any results.

During a White House news briefing earlier in the week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Washington Blade even the problem of school bullying would be virtually ignored if the cuts go through, “We’re not even having that conversation today, it’s all about going in the opposite direction,” Duncan said. “So creating safe communities, creating climates in which children live free of fear, thinking about what we’re doing in the curriculum, afterschool clubs — all the things we should be doing whether it’s around reducing bullying, or whether it’s around the arts or robotics, or whatever it might be, we’re not even having that conversation, which is, again, crazy to me.”

“According to a fact sheet issued by the White House earlier this month, cuts to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program could result in 7,400 fewer patients having access to life-saving HIV medications. The White House also says around 424,000 fewer HIV tests could be conducted by Centers for Disease Control State grantees, which could result in increased HIV transmissions and costs in health care,” the Blade reported.

According to Huffington Post, “The $1.2 trillion in budget cuts would be spread over nine years and are equally divided between domestic and defense-related spending. During the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, $85 billion worth of cuts are set to go into effect. The budget cuts would end in 2021.”

On to the President: Violence Against Women Act includes LGBT Protections

domestic

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to reauthorize a 1994 law that, among other things, bolsters funding and services available for victims of domestic violence abuse.

Unlike the 1994 act, the new National Violence Against Women Act, which passed the Senate a couple of weeks ago, also includes language specific to LGBT victims.

According to LGBT Nation, HRC President Chad Griffin calls the measure a win for the community, “It’s tremendous that both Republican and Democratic leaders came together to ensure that all domestic violence victims, including those who are LGBT, will not face discrimination when they seek services,” said Griffin. “There need not be a partisan divide on LGBT issues and this vote shows that we can come together to find common sense solutions to issues facing our community.”

The act is expected to boost anti-domestic violence programs in states like Idaho, where funding for such programs have been drastically cut. It could also help raise awareness and services for Idaho’s own LGBT community.

According to research,”Similarities can be seen between the cyclical patterns of abuse within same-sex relationships and that of heterosexuals.” The “rate of frequency of incidents of violence within same-sex relationships” are about the same as well.

There are some major obstacles unique to LGBT victims, however, especially when it comes to reporting an incident. One researcher on the issue notes,”The possibility of having one’s sexual orientation exposed against one’s will or knowledge (“outing”) is major factor that affects a…decision to report victimization. The threat of outing has been identified as a “dual edge sword” that is often used as a coercive tactic by abusers and inhibits some victims from seeking help.”

As one 2008 Boise State researcher noted,” As all citizens are to be treated equally and fairly by those who have sworn to “serve and protect”, no victim should have to choose between coming out of the closet and sweeping their problem under the rug as has occurred with domestic violence throughout history.”

There is also the very valid fear that authorities aren’t equipped or trained to handle same-sex domestic violence. While some departments in Idaho have begun discussing and even training officers on the issue, sometimes officers treat such calls much as they would a bar fight, missing out on the full dynamics of the situation. Community leaders hope that the legislation, once law, would help to further law enforcement training, not only here in Idaho, but around the country.

The Nation reports that “President Obama has pledged to sign the bill which prohibits any program or activity funded by the bill from discriminating against a victim based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It also explicitly includes LGBT victims in two key grant programs.”

The measure passed the House in a vote of 286 to 138.

The act was cosponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. He along with Congressman Mike Simpson supported measure.  Senator Jim Risch and Representative Raul Labrador each voted no.

Oregon Medicaid coverage to include trans youth

health plan

LGBTQ Nation reports,”The Oregon state Health Plan and its Healthy Kids Program will soon begin covering medically-necessary care for young people experiencing gender dysphoria on Oct. 1, 2014, making Oregon the first state to ensure coverage of transgender kids under Medicaid.”

The new Oregon Health Plan will cover:

• Mental health counseling (applies to children, youth and adults)

• Evaluation by a pediatric specialist in advance of pubertal suppression treatment

• Procedures, medication and follow-up monitoring related to pubertal suppression

In a press release announcing the expansion, TransActive Executive Director Jenn Burleton hails the move as a huge step forward,”Pubertal suppression provides transgender adolescents the option of avoiding unwanted, irreversible and deeply distressing changes that come with birth-sex pubertal development”, Burleton said. “Far too often trans adolescents experience increased suicidal ideation as a result of these changes and the indifference of others about the impact these changes have on trans youth.”

“Thanks to this common sense, safe and medically recommended action by the Oregon Health Plan, lives will be saved and TransActive is extremely grateful to have been able to play a part in this victory and to be a regional and national center for providing the care needed by these kids and their families.”

Brent Corrigan tackles Bareback Porn Past: “I was stupid”

lockhart

Idaho’s most famous gay porn star says he made a “bad decision” when he participated in making videos without practicing safe sex early on in his career.

Corrigan, whose real name is Sean Paul Lockhart, wrote in a column published earlier this week by actup.org,”the rise in unsafe porn being produced today by big, influential companies like Bel Ami, Sean Cody, Corbin Fisher – what many might consider the mainstream vein of of the gay porn world – these guys DO have an impact on your decisions and not just your pocket book. They have an impact on your community. ”

The now 26-year-old started making adult videos when he was just seventeen. Of those early days Corrigan writes,”the ramifications of my actions as a 17 year old kid became haltingly clear to me. Countless young men, too young, would write in to me and explain what they loved about my work with Cobra Video. And on the top of that list was the unprotected aspect of it. It scared me. I didn’t know these young men, but they knew me. They’d watched me. And probably, sadly, they probably fashioned their sex lives after the poorest choices I’ve made in my life.”

In 2010, the actor, who was born in Lewiston, used his celebrity status and his…um..assets.. in a safe sex video campaign alongside fellow porn star Matthew Rush.  A move which also proved controversial. In the Act Up column Corrigan acknowledges that the idea of a former underage barebacking porn star telling people to “wrap it up” was  a bit “half-baked” but he says he was “doing what he could”, and says he’s not “done yet.”

Corrigan/Lockhart has expanded his career, over the past few years, tackling roles in such films as the BRILLIANT Judas Kiss, Sister Mary, Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!, Welcome to New York, and others.

Gay males ages 13 to 24 years old contribute to more than a quarter of the new HIV infections in the U.S. each year.

You can read the full Act Up column HERE.

Survey gives Officials better picture of Idaho’s LGBT Population

lgbthealthneeds2009

The next time a survey taker calls your home you might want to answer the phone. That’s because health officials are relying on what’s called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey to get a better grasp on of the health of a state’s population.  Here in Idaho, that includes those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

According to JamieLou Delavan, who heads up Idaho’s Bureau of Community & Environmental Health, Idaho’s survey began to include questions on gender identity and sexual orientation in 2011.

According to the CDC, “the survey is the world’s largest, on-going telephone health survey system, tracking health conditions and risk behaviors in the United States yearly since 1984. Currently, data is collected monthly in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam.”

Delvan says the inclusion of questions concerning Idaho’s LGBT population is a pretty important milestone,”Every state conducts this survey but not every state asks gender identity in an expanded way or asks sexual orientation.  Some states are kind of surprised that we now include this in Idaho.”

Conducted throughout the year, states use the data to identify emerging health problems, establish and track health objectives, and develop and evaluate public health policies and programs. Many states also use the data to support health-related legislative efforts.

Getting anyone to participate in a phone survey can be challenging, especially in today’s environment of endless robocalls and telemarketing campaigns, but in rural conservative states like Idaho asking LGBT individuals to identify themselves as such can prove to be even tougher.

But the good news is those who participate in the survey do so confidentially and anonymously. Devlin says the information regarding one’s sexuality or gender identity is only used to give health officials a better idea of what’s happening health wise within a state’s population or community.

Data collected from those who identified as LGBT during last year’s survey helped to confirm several aspects of the community’s overall health picture.

Officials are hoping for even more participation this year.

Delvan says more participation in the survey by those who identify themselves as LGBT can mean more funding, more programs and better health care for Idaho’s LGBT population.

Click HERE to see Idaho stats from last year’s survey.

Click HERE to learn more about the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey program.

%d bloggers like this: