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Assisting LGBTQ Clients & Their Families LGBTQ Legal Clinic - Mississippi Cultural Competency Training October 7, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Assisting LGBTQ Clients & Their Families LGBTQ Legal Clinic - Mississippi Cultural Competency Training October 7, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Assisting LGBTQ Clients & Their Families LGBTQ Legal Clinic - Mississippi Cultural Competency Training October 7, 2014

2 Introductions Emily Hecht-McGowan –Director of Public Policy Denise Brogan-Kator –Senior Legislative Counsel, Family Equality Council

3 Basic Definitions Lesbian – A woman whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay (adj.) or as gay women. Gay – The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). Bisexual - An individual who is physically, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to men and women. Bisexuals need not have had sexual experience with both men and women; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual. Transgender – An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender- variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically. Queer - Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves. However, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting or describing someone who self-identifies that way.

4 Terminology to Avoid The following terminology is seen as pejorative and derogatory and generally offensive and should be avoided: “transgenders,” “a transgender” –Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. –Preferred: “transgender people,” “a transgender person” “transgendered” –The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous “-ed” tacked onto the end. “sex change,” “pre-operative,” “post-operative” –Referring to a sex change operation, or using terms such as pre- or post-operative, inaccurately suggests that one must have surgery in order to transition. Avoid overemphasizing surgery when discussing transgender people or the process of transition. –Preferred: “transition”

5 Terminology to Avoid “homosexual” (n. or adj.) –Please use “gay” or “lesbian” to describe people attracted to members of the same sex. Because of the clinical history of the word “homosexual,” it is aggressively used by anti-gay extremists to suggest that gay people are somehow diseased or psychologically/emotionally disordered – notions discredited by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s. –Preferred: “gay” (adj.); “gay man” or “lesbian” (n.); “gay person/people” "homosexual relations/relationship,” “homosexual couple,” “homosexual sex,” etc. –These constructions are frequently used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate gay people, couples and relationships and are considered extremely offensive. –Preferred: “relationship” (or “sexual relationship”), “couple” (or, if necessary, “gay couple”), “sex,” etc. “sexual preference” –The term “sexual preference” is typically used to suggest that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is a choice and therefore can and should be “cured.” –Preferred: “sexual orientation” or “orientation” “gay lifestyle” or “homosexual lifestyle” –The phrase “gay lifestyle” is used to denigrate lesbians and gay men, suggesting that their orientation is a choice and therefore can and should be “cured” –Preferred: “gay lives,” “gay and lesbian lives” “admitted homosexual” or “avowed homosexual” –Preferred: “openly lesbian,” “openly gay,” “openly bisexual”

6 Transgender Clients Always use a transgender person’s chosen name. Often transgender people cannot afford a legal name change or are not yet old enough to change their name legally. They should be afforded the respect for their chosen name. Whenever possible, ask transgender people which pronoun they would like you to use. A person who identifies as a certain gender, whether or not that person has taken hormones or had some form of surgery, should be referred to using the pronouns appropriate for their identity. It is never appropriate to put quotation marks around either a transgender person’s chosen name or the pronoun that reflects that person’s gender identity. When describing transgender people, please use the correct term or terms to describe their gender identity. For example, a person who is born male and transitions to become female is a transgender woman, whereas a person who is born female and transitions to become male is a transgender man.

7 Defining LGBT Families What is an “LGBTQ” Family? –Families headed by lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and/or queer parents May be single-parent or multi-parent households OR –Families with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender children

8 Transgender Families Sex and gender are complex issues. A huge variety of factors are at work in making each individual the person that they are. “Gender identity or expression” means a gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth. Always use the gender pronoun/name that a transgender person uses for himself or herself. If you don’t know, politely ask. Sometimes, people will have names that sound gendered, i.e. “Jennifer” or “Dad”. Don’t assume that those names imply a gender pronoun preference.

9 Transgender Children Gender identity is formed as early as age 3 or 4 Sometimes, that identity is different from what we assume, based on a child’s outward biology Attempting to deny or repress a child’s natural gender expression can be harmful Always use the gender pronoun/name that a transgender person uses for himself or herself. If you don’t know, politely ask.

10 Assumptions Assumptions about LGBTQ People/Families –We’re all rich –We’re all white –We all live in New York, California or Massachusetts –All are raising bio kids –We reject religion

11 Different Paths to Parenthood How do LGBTQ people and same-sex couples create their families? –Adoption –Advanced Reproductive Technology Donor Insemination Surrogacy –Prior Relationships Both Opposite-Sex and Same-Sex Relationships –Blended –Transgender Parents – either pre or post- transition

12 Where do LGBTQ Families Live? Geographically diverse –Live in 93% of all US Counties –Highest proportion of same-sex couples raising children live in states with fewest protections –Mississippi has the highest proportion of same- sex couples raising children in the country (26%)

13 Where Do LGBTQ Families Live?

14 Level of Overall Equality

15 Racial and Ethnic Diversity LGBTQ families are more racially and ethnically diverse than families headed by opposite-sex couples. –Black and Latino same-sex couples are more likely to raise children than white same-sex couples.

16 Racial and Ethnic Diversity LGBTQ families are more racially and ethnically diverse than families headed by different-sex couples. –Of the 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples in the U.S., almost ½ (about 43%) of them are raising children. –Single LGBTQ people of color are more likely to be foster parents –50% of children under 18 living with same-sex couples are non-white compared to 41% of children living with opposite-sex couples.

17 Economic Diversity LGBTQ Families are more likely to struggle financially than their different-sex counterparts. –In 2010, 22% of all American children lived in poverty. –Children being raised by same-sex couples are twice as likely to live at or below the poverty line than children with opposite-sex parents. –Same-sex couples of color raising kids are more likely to be poor than white same-sex couples.

18 Economic Diversity


20 LGBTQ in MS 3,484 Same-Sex Couples 895 (26%) Same-Sex Couples Raising 1,790 Children Marriage Ban – Constitutional Amendment and Statute Ban on Joint Adoption by Same-Sex Couples Silent on 2 nd Parent Adoption – But None Granted No Statewide Protections – Employment, Housing, Public Accommodations Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act (2013) – Permits religious justification for discrimination and bullying of LGBTQ students RFRA Passed in April 2014 – Businesses Can Refuse Service Based on Religious Beliefs

21 Everyday Challenges of LGBTQ Families Outdated Laws and Policies –Stable, Loving Homes Lack of legal recognition of parents’ relationship Lack of legal recognition of both parents Children live in fear –Economic Impact Higher tax burdens Inadequate access to safety net programs –Health and Well-Being Denied health insurance coverage and/or culturally competent care Obstacles to care of sick family members Hostility in schools, communities, etc.

22 Conclusions So what does all of this tell us about LGBTQ families? –We are incredibly diverse. –We live at the intersections of many different communities. –We have multiple identities. –We may be “hidden.” –We experience the same struggles as other communities. –We also face different obstacles than other families.

23 Keys Points to Remember LGBTQ families experience disapproval, discrimination and harassment more frequently than other families and may be particularly sensitive in new environments. Don’t make assumptions Families are formed and function in many different ways Be aware of your language Follow the cues of individual families –Example – Parents are sometimes referred to by names that may be confusing –Clients may be uncomfortable with their own sexuality and/or gender –Parents may struggle with their own terminology and may sometimes use “offensive” language

24 Key Points Cont’d Ask questions if you don’t know –But think about those questions before you ask Check judgments at the door A person’s gender identity may not be able to be gleaned through observation Family members may be hostile Employer may be hostile Experience in communities of faith – even in churches – may have been hostile

25 Client confidentiality Review Attorney/Client privilege with client –What you say to me/us is confidential and will never be repeated We may have to ask deeply personal questions, but only what we need to serve you –Only ask what you really need to know Key is to make client feel comfortable in sharing life’s details with you

26 Hypothetical An apparently different sex couple presents for clinical services. They have a young child, born during their relationship, and wish to ensure that each parent has as strong a legal relationship to their child as possible. The birth parent is the male and he conceived using an anonymous sperm donor.

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