Consider these sobering statistics:
- 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ, most having left or been kicked out of unsupportive homes.
- Nearly a fifth of homeless youth in the United States and Canada are victims of trafficking, reportsfrom the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University New Orleans ~Philanthropy News Digest
- “LGBT San Diego’s Trailblazing Generation”found that 23% of seniors earn less than $20,000 a year and 68% don’t have family or younger friends they can count on for support or assistance.
With these statistics in mind and after discussing gender and sexuality at San Diego Grantmakers’ recent Summit on Advancing Gender Equity, we thought it would be worthwhile to explore this conversation further with a panel of local community leaders and our members. Our thanks to Chrissy Cmorik, Education Outreach Manager from Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Caroline Dessert, Esq., Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, and Amanda Le, Policy Associate at ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties for sharing their insights with us and leading us in a thoughtful conversation about how we can be better allies and advocates for our community. As Caroline so succinctly pointed out, “Gender is who we are and sexuality is who we like.” Yet discrimination against these expressions of self and emotional connections lead to a myriad of issues for many in our community, often increasing challenges local residents may already be addressing due to their income, race/religion, status, or country of origin. In addition, as funders looking to support these communities, we can find ways to be more inclusive in our interactions and support. Some ways include:
- Consider sexuality and gender as spectrums, not either/or but as a panorama of expressions. Millennials have a higher rate identifying within this community and some also express not having a gender or sexual preference at all.
- “It’s not just about pronouns.” But introducing ourselves with our preferred pronouns can help open up the conversation with others.
- Look at ways you can be more inclusive at work, from everything like job applications and bathroom/lounge areas to inclusive language in your communications pieces.
The panel also discussed many recent legislative victories that have helped to: provide a third gender marker on birth certificates and drivers licenses; expand comprehensive sexual education in charter schools; and ensured transgender individuals will be legally recognized as who they are while incarcerated. The WGSD Education and Advocacy Team will be following similar legislation as it pertains to LGBTQ rights within the communities we serve and fund and our Leadership Team will be reviewing ways WGSD can be more inclusive in our grantmaking.