More Than Marriage event highlights ongoing LGBTQ struggles

David Phan

The PRIDE Center went over facts about the LGBTQ youth population other than marriage inequality in the Multicultural Center with its More Than Marriage program, revealing gaps in healthcare, employment equality, social justice and housing.

Participants included students from the Leadership Initiative at Sacramento State, a group aimed at providing leadership skills for social change, said Mickey Xiong, who is part of the initiative.

Others like Michaela Erwin, 23, an English major who is not part of the initiative but is interested in social issues, came to show support to the LGBTQ community.

“I’m an ally and I want to learn more about the issues,” Erwin said. “I’m concerned about the way people are being discriminated against. Regardless of your sexual orientation, it’s your business. People shouldn’t suffer the way they’re suffering now because of prejudice.”

People were assigned to groups with each group focusing on a particular topic in the LGBTQ spectrum.

Event host and PRIDE Center coordinator Chris Kent said healthcare is a major concern facing the gay community. He said queer youth often face discrimination when searching for doctors and appropriate facilities.

Members of the group whom were assigned healthcare issues said gays are at a higher risk of HIV and STDs; obesity; tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse and have the inability to acquire preventative care for diseases such as cancer.

The healthcare group provided research showing that the LGBTQ population has higher rates of poverty, low quality of healthcare, high rates of victimization and barriers in accessing resources and insurance coverages. In addition, LGBT individuals are unwilling to use insurance for STD screenings and mentioned problems with being bullied at school as well as facing pressure from parents.

“There’s so much variability within humans,” said Gina Rodriguez, a staff member at the PRIDE Center.

Rodriguez said queer individuals often face hurdles finding appropriate doctors and health services because they are transgender.

There is one school in the country that teaches LGBT health issues, which Rodriguez said is not enough to cover and reach the larger population. This allows a limited number of doctors who are trained with dealing with a community with different health needs.

Group members who were assigned social issues for the event said around 300,000 LGBT students end up detained and arrested every year. They also said that there is a “pipeline to prison,” which sets up LGBT youth for imprisonment at an early age.

Another topic discussed was how LGBT youth face victimization at school, abandonment, and strict school sanctions.

After being charged with an offense, such as being labeled a sex offender or being arrested, it becomes less likely for a released queer person to receive financial aid, limiting an important resource for education and career development, said the group dealing with social justice issues. The members acquired the statistics through internet searches.

Members also discussed barriers in the workplace, difficulties with accessing federal work programs and workplace harassment.

The group assigned to research diversity within the gay community discussed intersectionality, or the different burdens a person faces because of having multiple identities.

“I might assume that the way I’ve experienced things is the way everyone else has experienced things,” said Kent of the variables and differences within the community. “This affects the way policies are developed.”

The group assigned with exploring homelessness identified the cause behind LGBT homelessness, namely family rejection after coming out.

Some participants brought solutions to alleviating homelessness, such as providing services, identifying the LGBT population and educating families through public service announcements.

Rodriguez said there are different ways to provide outreach on an individual level.

“If you don’t want to give out money, you can give out supplies,” said Rodriguez.