Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Upside of COP 24/7

October is Advocacy & Organizing Month

I've posted last week that Governor Mike Beebe declared October as Advocacy and Organizing month in Arkansas to raise awareness about the impact that advocacy and organizing have on promoting change in our state. According to a recent study, every $1 invested in advocacy and organizing garners $114 for communities. Now as you wrap your mind around that, now imagine if local community based organizations could mobilize, cultivate or generate a cadre of individuals into a frenzy to support their causes with a simple $1 investment that could lead to untold dollars infused into our LGBTQ community. What a novel idea! Gay folks actually taking their own hard earned dollars and all that alleged "disposable income" pledged to the organizations of their choice. How about some lavender businesses consider showing some Ad support for Arkansas' first LGBTQ health journal?  Each possible AD could  make a difference that would fuel the average James and Josephine into grasping that they should support businesses that seek to directly support our community. Really? Last weekends double whammy fundraisers kicked into high gear by Renegades for a Cause is an example of setting forth on a rallying cry for a entity that could use a boost. Afterwards I was moved to think that this "micro" fundraising could be ramped up into a force that could propel not only future possible candidates but certainly be a foundation to assist in a variety of ways that could benefit the community at large. Am I suggesting one of those pesky "PAC" things or "Super" this or that, I 'm not sure. That sort of fundraising may not be feasible on the home front yet, but there's no doubt that together we should further explore how to harness our money power as well as being more savvy about how its applied. Unfortunately Little Rock doesn't have an actual "gayborhood" per se, but it would behoove us to learn exactly what merchants are allies and whom court our support into their businesses. A couple of years ago, this forum attempted to promote a "Gay Chamber of Commerce" type entity that got a luke warm response. After trying to sell the idea over and over again, it just died on the vine. At that time, I had hopes that maybe this forum could generate some banner ads or any ads of a home grown nature. To date, I've got nothing more than "crickets."  In my opinion, it is imperative that we identify gay owned businesses and that those businesses unite in a manner to support local community based organizations which could use their expertise on their board of directors, mentoring, networking and a whole host of items that could build capacity that is most desperately needed. Its not always about the major five figure donation that one can make, but rather that special cultivated connection that could be an ongoing donation that could last a life time. I'm urging any and all folks who think that this is something to ponder to share their thoughts here or contact me personally. I believe that "we" are more of the answer to our problems than we may give ourselves credit. Let's hear from you today!!!  And by all means let's make a move...

Why the Gay and Transgender Population Experiences Higher Rates of Substance Use

Many Use to Cope with Discrimination and Prejudice

Editor's Note: This item is being presented in lieu of an upcoming behavioral health discussion being spearheaded by the Arkansas Department of Human Services that will take place Nov. 14. The LGBTQ community has many layers of issues that must become apart of the framework of all health dilemmas and co-morbidity's that affect those living with HIV and or AIDS. Unfortunately in Arkansas, harm reduction kits are only being offered as an "underground" option for those who seek them, yet they should be apart of the prevention arsenal in the fight to limit transmission rates. Even as this starkness grabs our attention, there is marginal monitoring or tracking from public health officials of what's really going on in these populations.Therefore, its important that our voices, testimonies and issues become illuminated in the course of offering health care continuum's and outcomes. This item is not offered in its entirety due to length but a link to the entire document will be posted. For more info on the meeting contact 501.372.4242 or HMiller@fsainc.org

In the movement for gay and transgender equality, issues like marriage and workplace discrimination dominate media headlines as well as the time and attention of most advocates. The focus on these headline issues has been successful on some fronts in recent years, with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a hate crimes law that is inclusive of gay and transgender people. Other issues that impact the overall equality and well being of gay and transgender people, however, don’t always garner as much attention.
Gay and transgender health is one of these issues. This issue brief examines the disproportionately high rates of substance use by gay and transgender people, which is a significant impediment to the health of this group. Although data on the rates of substance abuse in gay and transgender populations are sparse, it is estimated that between 20 percent to 30 percent of gay and transgender people abuse substances, compared to about 9 percent of the general population.

The stress that comes from daily battles with discrimination and stigma is a principle driver of these higher rates of substance use, as gay and transgender people turn to tobacco, alcohol, and other substances as a way to cope with these challenges. And a lack of culturally competent health care services also fuels high substance-use rates among gay and transgender people.
In order to lower these rates, our health care system needs to better meet the needs of gay and transgender people, and our government needs to advance public policies that promote equality for this population.

This issue brief explains why we see higher rates of substance use in the gay and transgender population, provides a brief overview of these rates, and makes recommendations that can help end antigay and antitransgender discrimination and reduce substance use rates.

Rates of substance use and abuse in the gay and transgender population

In this section we provide some topline numbers on substance abuse rates in the gay and transgender population. Note that there is little national data on gay and transgender people overall, so the statistics here are best estimates of these rates.


  • Gay and transgender people smoke tobacco up to 200 percent more than their heterosexual and nontransgender peers.


  • Twenty-five percent of gay and transgender people abuse alcohol, compared to 5 to 10 percent of the general population.


  • Men who have sex with men are 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana than men who do not have sex with men.
  • These men also are 12.2 times more likely to use amphetamines than men who do not have sex with men.
  • They are also 9.5 times more likely to use heroin than men who do not have sex with men.

Factors leading to these rates of substance use and abuse

Gay and transgender people report higher rates of substance use than others due to three main factors.
First, many gay and transgender people live with a high level of stress that comes from social prejudice and discriminatory laws in areas of daily life such as employment, relationship recognition, and health care.
Second, a lack of cultural competency in the health care system discourages gay and transgender people from seeking treatment for substance abuse, and—if they do seek help—often leads to inappropriate or irrelevant services.
Finally, targeted marketing efforts by alcohol and tobacco companies exploit the con- nection many gay and transgender people have to bars and clubs as safe spaces for socializing and increase easy access to tobacco products and alcohol. Below, we look at each of these factors in turn.

Minority stress

Minority stress—the negative effects associated with the adverse social conditions experienced by individuals of a marginalized social group—is something gay and transgender people have to deal with every day. This stress is triggered by general social prejudice against being gay or transgender, as well as discriminatory laws and policies.
Antigay and antitransgender social prejudice stems from the belief that being gay or transgender is somehow wrong or bad. It can be expressed in subtle ways (for example, a receptionist at a pediatrician’s office asking a lesbian couple which of the pair is their child’s “real” parent), or it can be expressed in verbal and physical violence (two men holding hands getting taunted with antigay epithets or a transgender person getting jumped by a group of strangers).
Karen and Marcye Nicholson-McFadden of New Jersey understand this prejudice all too well. They are the parents of two children and have a civil union because same-sex marriage is not legal in their state. Whenever they visit the doctor or go to their children’s school, they are treated differently because they have to deal with people who don’t know what a civil union is, and they have to explain their family to the staff. Karen and Marcye regularly cross out items on government, school, and doctors’ forms to reflect their family structure. For example, a family headed by two moms often has to cross out “name of father” on forms.
Or take the 2010 case of a 14-year-old student at Nassau BOCES Career Preparatory High School in Hicksville, New York, was assaulted by four of his classmates who perceived him to be gay. The student was stomped and kicked by his classmates as they spewed antigay epithets at him on his bus ride home from school. The very next day the student was once again the subject of abuse as two of his classmates from the day before made antigay remarks toward him and slapped him across the face and head. His classmates were later arrested and charged with assault and harassment for their actions.
This kind of prejudice can force some gay and transgender people to avoid social settings or neighborhoods that might put them in harm’s way. The end result is higher levels of anxiety and fear of being attacked when doing something as simple as walking down the street. And this can lead them to use substances to ease this anxiety.
Discriminatory laws and practices are another source of minority stress that negatively impacts the gay and transgender population and can lead to drug and alcohol use. In particular, discrimination in employment, housing, relationship recognition, and health care are major areas of concern.

To read the entire item click it to: www.americanprogres.org/issues/lgbt/report  

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