The June 2015 Supreme Court decision affirming gay marriage has effectively resolved one of the most important issues facing the LGBTQ community. However, the movement continues to express deep concerns relating to the lack of basic human rights for those who exist outside of societal norms. Many of the areas where the LGBTQ community hopes to achieve progress have little to do with a political narrative. In many instances, the issues revolve around matters of fundamental economic and physical survival.
LGBTQ youths are far more likely to be forced out of the family home because of their sexual or gender orientation. It is estimated that up to 40 percent of homeless youths identify as LGBTQ. As a group, displaced LGBTQ youths are more likely to experience homelessness, physical abuse and sexual exploitation. It is no wonder that as a group, they have such a high incidence of suicide, depression and severe anxiety
Despite recent successes, people in 29 states can still be legally fired from their job for identifying as LGBTQ. In fact, transgender employees enjoy no workplace protection whatsoever in 32 states. Ongoing attempts to change the laws regarding workplace conduct and policy have slowly gained traction, but the need to change the corporate culture as it relates to diversity hiring and development remains a daunting task.
LGBTQ people face extraordinarily difficult hurdles as they try to achieve a reasonable level of economic security. In most instances, the LGBTQ community experiences a higher rate of poverty and a higher rate of unemployment when compared to their heterosexual counterparts. This is largely due to discriminatory employment laws, lack of affordable health insurance and homelessness.
Among all the challenges facing the LGBTQ Community, cultural rejection remains the most persistent and entrenched problem. It is estimated that over 100 million Americans are uncomfortable when encountering a LGBTQ person. While legislation plays an important role in defining cultural norms, laws alone are simply not enough to end discrimination. Moving forward, educational institutions, churches and government will be relied on heavily to provide the leadership required to ensure that all citizens are given the same economic, social and cultural opportunities regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identification.