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June 2nd, 2015
Rep. Grijalva on LGBT History Month

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) released the following statement in honor of LGBT History Month, which began on June 1st.

“LGBT History Month is a time to honor the courage that members of the LGBT community display every day as they fight to simply be accepted in our society for who they are. We have made significant strides in recent years, with marriage equality now law of the land in 37 states and counting. In June, we expect the Supreme Court to weigh in, and I’m optimistic that the freedom to marry whomever you love will be extended to all Americans.

“But while we celebrate progress, we must remember that the challenges faced by the LGBT community extend beyond marriage equality. Rejection from parents, schools officials, employers and communities make LGBT youths more likely to commit suicide than their peers. They are also a disproportionate part of the homeless population, with one in five homeless youths being LGBT. More than a quarter of transgender individuals lose their jobs due to sex based discrimination, and 20 percent are evicted or denied housing due to their sexual identities. Perhaps the most vulnerable of all, LGBT unaccompanied minors and immigrant children in our own federal custody have inadequate protections against sexual discrimination and assault.

“So while we celebrate, we do so with the understanding that there is still so much to be done. I am proud of my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community for helping our nation achieve the level of acceptance that it has. It’s up to every one of us, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, to build on that success.”

In December 2014, Rep. Grijalva led 59 Representatives in sending a letter to HHS Secretary Burwell over the lack of adequate protections for LGBT unaccompanied minors facing sexual discrimination and assault while in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The letter reads in part:

While less than 10 percent of the general youth population identifies as LGBT, they account for approximately 19 percent of children in foster care and an estimated 15 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system. Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth in juvenile correctional facilities are almost twice as likely to experience sexual victimization as their heterosexual counterparts. Furthermore, research shows that many of the facilities which ORR contracts to provide care for unaccompanied minors are located in states without adequate protections for LGBT youth.

Full text of Rep. Grijalva’s letter is available here.


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