The Senate prepares to mark up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, this week. The historic victories for marriage equality in the Supreme Court were significant steps toward a more just society, but policymakers and advocates must stay focused on solutions that will ensure better health and brighter horizons for all LGBT Americans.
* Workplace discrimination: There is no federal law preventing discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Even in a majority of states, LGBT employees have no legal recourse to challenge this kind of discrimination. Passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which has been proposed in almost every session of Congress since 1994, would protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
* Immigration: Undocumented individuals living in the United States face obstacles to accessing safe and stable employment, housing, and health care, in addition to living in constant fear of being detained and deported. These obstacles are even more pronounced for the 267,000 adult LGBT undocumented individuals living at the intersection of both marginalized groups.
* Youth homelessness: Even though LGBT youth are only 5 percent to 7 percent of the population, they make up 40 percent of all homeless youth. The overrepresentation of LGBT people among homeless youth is driven in part by high rates of family conflict and abandonment, as well as victimization in schools.
* School climate: According to a survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 8 out of 10 transgender students report feeling unsafe at school. A devastating 85 percent of LGBT students report experiencing harassment because of their sexual or gender identity, with 20 percent reporting they were physically attacked. Bullying of LGBT students can lead to lower grade point averages, absenteeism, health problems, failure to graduate, violence, and suicide.
* Health disparities: Due to factors such as low rates of health insurance coverage, high rates of stress due to systematic harassment and discrimination, and a lack of cultural competency in the health care system, LGBT people experience significant health disparities compared to the general population.