It's hard to believe that the poverty rate in the LGBT community is higher than heterosexuals. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, because LGBT people are born and raised in all types of environments. Most LGBT individuals also face unique obstacles because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This includes a higher risk of being homeless when they are young, harassment and discrimination at school and the workplace.
All you must do is envision or think about the young gay man who is kicked out of him home and ends up working on the streets to survive, the transgender woman being turned down in a job interview, or an elderly lesbian being denied housing.
LGBT poverty to many is very surprising because there are not dominant images within the community, and stereotype remain resilient. Historically the image of the LGBT community has been the gay, white, young men who do not have children, therefore, it is believed that they have additional/extra income to use. To better understand you must break down that dominant image to address the underlining of LGBT poverty and the work that needs to happen to address it.
According to research there are approximately 9 million LGBT people in the United States, and almost have are lesbian and bisexual women. Not only do they face sexual orientation discrimination, they must face sex discrimination in education, the workplace and gaps in wages. 24% of lesbians and bisexual women are poor, compared to 19% of heterosexual women.
We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. Mother Teresa
People of color (African Americans, Latinos, Asians) One in five members of same-sex couple in the U.S. are people of color, and one in eight are Latino's. LGBT people of color are more likely to live in poverty, this is generally standard in our society. African-American same sex couples are more likely to live under the poverty line and are three times more likely to live in poverty than white same-sex couples.
The most economically vulnerable in the LGBT community are the elderly and young. It is estimated that 1.6 million youths in the United States experience homelessness each year, and between 20% and 40% identify as LGBT. Members of the LGBT community that are 65 years of age and older, and make up 7% of the total members of the LGBT community, 28% are disabled and 6% receive Medicaid or other government assistance.
One of the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community are transgender people. Research has shown that transgender people are four times likely to have a household income under $10,000.00 and twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical person in the United States. 90% reported being harassed, mistreated, or discrimination on the job, and one in five reported being homeless as some point in their lives.
How do we as a culture begin to address these issues? Some state that we must understand the diversity within the LGBT community; that this is the key to breaking down the myth of affluence and the beginning of understanding how to combat LGBT poverty. There also had to be a collation among women, people of color, young and old and LGBT people altogether in the LGBT community.
What I find interesting is how you listen to people in LGBT community talk about unity, togetherness and acceptance. But they are just words, and words without action(s) mean nothing. We tend to look our noses down on those we don't consider worthy of our acceptance, we mock and ridicule those that dare to be different, we set standards that are only achievable in ones closed minded world. We live in a community that friends are determined on what they can do for us, and if you play the "game" you're somebody.
For a very select few there are those in the community that try to make a difference, they work tirelessly to help those in need and provide support and assistance where ever needed. Until we begin to change our attitude towards those in need we are no better than those in society determined to take away the rights we have.
So, where do we begin?
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ASD, Laura Yax WSCS. “Census 2000 Gateway.” U.S. Census Bureau, United States Government, 25 Jan. 2002, www.census.gov/main/www/cen2000.html.
Kurtzleben, Danielle. Study: Poverty Elevated for the LGBT Community. U.S. News, 6 June 2013, www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/06/06/study-poverty-rate-elevated-for-lgbt-community
Quintana, Nico Sifra. “Poverty in the LGBT Community.” Center for American Progress, doi:10.1037/e549352009-015.
Whalen, Kate. “Poverty Is an LGBT Issue: New Report Identifies Low-Income LGBT Legal Needs.” Legal Services NYC, 2017, www.legalservicesnyc.org/news-and-events/press-room/966-poverty-is-an-lgbt-issue-new-report-identifies-low-income-lgbt-legal-needs-.
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