For Pride Month this June, policymakers and environmental activists need to assess how environmental injustice is affecting the LGBTQI+ community.
Source: Public Service Environmental Network/Youtube
Before Pride Month was a celebration of community, it was a protest. In June 1969, the Stonewall riots began when queer communities responded to a police raid that began at a bar called the Stonewall Inn. Located in Manhattan, New York, the bar was a safe space for the LGBTQI+ community.
The following year, on June 28, 1970, on the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the first-ever Pride march began. 53 years later, Pride celebrations and parades are still celebrated across the country.
Although the community gradually gained more rights, it did not go far in protecting people from pollution. The environmental justice movement has made significant strides, but women, low-income communities and LGBTQI+ people are still disproportionately affected by injustice. People who have even more of these identities may be disproportionately burdened even more.
CAP reported that LGBTQ+ people have long been discriminated against and disproportionately impacted by pollution and toxic air, land and water. This is due to housing policies such as “heteronormative NIMBYism”, the exclusion of LGBTQI+ spaces in certain communities, and higher poverty rates.
Studies have shown that areas with higher proportions of same-sex couples had increased levels of hazardous air pollutants compared to areas with fewer same-sex couples. All of this has left the community at greater risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, respiratory disease or cardiovascular disease.
CAP reported that while there isn’t much data on the issue, LGBTQI+ people are also more likely to be exposed to indoor environmental hazards such as lead paint, lead piping, asbestos, radon, and other pollutants.
Looking at young adults aged 18-25, LGBTQI+ individuals have a much higher risk of homelessness than their non-LGBTQI+ counterparts. According to one study, 20 to 45 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, which is at least two to four times the estimated percentage of all youth who identify as such.
The LGBTQI+ are also likely to be more vulnerable to natural disasters. A study found that LGBTQI+ families are much less recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA is expected to grow significantly as global warming and the climate crisis continues to deepen. According to the study, these communities received unequal resource distribution after Hurricane Katrina. FEMA has even admitted its false history of discrimination against low-income communities and people of color.
LGBTQI+ populations are also at much higher risk of mental health problems. These are often due to the stigma, prejudice and discrimination they experience in life. Even when trying to get medical care, LGBTQI+ people often face discrimination, harassment, or obstacles when trying to pay for their services.
A 2020 CAP survey found that among those who reported experiencing discrimination in the past year, 37 percent of gay, lesbian, queer, or bisexual people and 59 percent of transgender people reported experiencing discrimination during that time by a healthcare provider or medical providers were discriminated against.
The fight against climate change and environmental justice must largely focus on the disproportionately affected communities.
Sign this petition to protect community activists who expose EPA’s environmental racism, and sign this petition to demand that EPA bring justice to affected poor and minority communities.
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