Coalition of Alaska Service Organizations Calls on Congress to Pass Federal LGBTQ Protections

By Communications Team • August 26, 2021 • 10:13 am

ANCHORAGE — More than 40 organizations throughout Alaska, ranging from AFL-CIO to Christians for Equality to Native Movement to Facing Foster Care released a letter today urging Congress to pass a federal law to protect LGBTQ Alaskans. 

“Alaska is home to an estimated 25,000 residents who identify as LGBTQ. They are our coworkers, neighbors, family and friends. But because of a lack of statewide protections and critical gaps in federal laws, LGBTQ Alaskans are vulnerable to discrimination in key areas of life, including healthcare, housing, and federally funded programs and services,” the letter reads.

The Equality Act, passed by the House and currently under consideration in the Senate, would modernize and improve the nation’s civil rights laws by including explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people, women, and communities of color in all 50 states.

“As a labor movement, we stand for fairness and equal opportunity. We believe that no one should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love,” said Joelle Hall, President of Alaska’s AFL-CIO. “Everyone deserves the right to access healthcare and education, eat at restaurants and visit hotels. As labor leaders, we will continue to push for justice in Alaska and across the nation until we ensure that every single worker in America can live and work under the banner of liberty and justice for all.”

Some of the greatest harm is experienced by marginalized LGBTQ people, ranging from those with mental health issues, people living in poverty, and BIPOC.  

Across America, LGBTQ youth are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ young people. 

“LGBTQ youth experience a much higher risk of homelessness than their peers, and once on the street, they face additional hardships because of stigma and discrimination,” said Jasmine Boyle, Executive Director of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness. “LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth. And while they make up only 7 percent of the US population, they make up 40 percent of all young people experiencing homelessness. Family conflict is the most common cause of all youth homelessness and for LGBTQ youth, the conflict is often over their sexual orientation or gender identity.  We believe that every Alaskan deserves a roof over their head, a place to put down anchor, and feel safe with their loved ones. Nondiscrimination protections are critically important as many of our people – and disproportionately LGBTQ people – struggle with homelessness.”

Additionally, research shows that LGBTQ Indigenous people face some of the highest levels of discrimination, and are at greater risk for housing instability, food insecurity, and foster care.

“The Equality Act is essential in strengthening protections for everyone. If the opposition insists discrimination isn’t happening and that all people are being treated with equality then passing this shouldn’t be an issue. We will continue to advocate for explicit non-discrimination protections that are inclusive of LGBTQ peoples until Congress passes a law to ensure that every Alaskan can live with dignity and respect,” said Charlene Aqpik Apok, Gender Justice and Healing Director at Native Movement. 

“It’s our goal to ensure that all Alaskan children grow up in a family and community that provides them with all the tools to make their dreams a reality,” said Trevor Storrs, President and CEO of Alaska Children’s Trust. “Unfortunately, many children who come out as LGBTQ can be disconnected or pushed out by their families, friends, and communities. They face stigma, lack of acceptance, and abandonment. A supportive federal law like the Equality Act can literally save lives and help ensure that LGBTQ Alaska youth have equal opportunities to thrive.”

“YWCA Alaska supports the Equality Act. It is preferred that citizens of our great nation would live respectfully caring one for the other because it is good and right to do,” said Theresa Lyons, CEO of YWCA Alaska. “However, in the absence of a willingness to honor the humanity of all peoples, legislation is required to ensure the protection of civil rights. Discrimination and oppression anywhere is injustice everywhere, and it is unacceptable. YWCA Alaska supports the right of all peoples to live in peace, justice, freedom, and dignity.”

“Freedom and equal treatment of ALL people are deeply held values that we hold dear as Alaskans. Freedom for one means freedom for everyone, including our LGBTQ neighbors, co-workers, family and friends,” said Owen Hutchinson, Board Co-Chair of Identity Alaska. “LGBTQ Alaskans deserve to live free from unfair discrimination. That’s why we are united in our effort to advocate for LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections to ensure that every Alaskan can live with dignity and respect, and have the freedom and opportunity to thrive in our state and across the nation.”

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