Great ResignationDiversity and InclusionCompensationCEO DailyCFO DailyModern Board

The Human Rights Campaign: Black LGBTQ Youth Feel Depressed and Unsafe

February 20, 2019, 6:31 PM UTC
Studio shot of two beautiful young women embracing each other against a gray background. Delmaine Donson—Getty Images
Delmaine Donson—Getty Images

The Human Rights Campaign has released its 2019 Black and African American LGBTQ Youth Report, which builds on groundbreaking work they began in 2017.

This latest report, created in partnership with researchers from the University of Connecticut and published in part last year, offers a deeper analysis of the responses from some 1,600 black and African American LGBTQ youth, who answered questions about their experiences with their families, schools, friends, and communities.

Bottom line, these kids live at a fraught intersection of race and sexual identity and are often in danger of derailing at a time when they should be having fun, discovering their passions, and preparing for their grownup lives.

“I feel it is very hard for me to talk in general about how I feel as an LGBTQ person because it’s hard to find people who actually understand all what you are going through and who will talk about it with you,” is a common refrain.

Yes, it’s an often impossible journey from birth to C-Suite for many under-supported members of society, but to call this a talent pipeline issue would be to diminish the true cost of exclusion.

Some 90% percent of the respondents report racial discrimination at school, and nearly 70% report being verbally insulted because of their gender or sexual identity. Only 5% felt their teachers were supportive of people like them. At home, 77% report having heard family members saying negative things about LGBTQ people, and only 19% report feeling like they can be themselves once they walk through the door.

Nearly 80% report feeling depressed in the previous week.

They’re also facing disproportionate instances of physical harm, bullying, and sexual assault. All of it is a recipe for a future marked by depression, addiction, and illness, and increased risk of poverty, homelessness, and incarceration.

The report also offers a broad blueprint for parents, counselors, teachers, allies, and policymakers to help produce better outcomes for black LGBTQ youth, so do download and share.

But they offer five ideas that everyone can do, regardless of their personal proximity to LGBTQ kids of color.

I’ve paraphrased them for a corporate audience below:

Embrace Black and African American LGBTQ stories, characters, and narratives. The research finds that these young people can’t find relatable role models in the world, so consuming and sharing stories and media which reflects them helps, “while also combating stigma and misconceptions about Black and African American people more broadly.” Are you supporting public screenings of relevant films? Including relevant authors on panels?

Support parents of Black and African American LGBTQ youth to become better advocates for their children. Counselors, employee resource groups, faith advisers, and human resource experts can develop resources or support groups to help anyone who cares about a black LGTBQ kid be better equipped to understand their specific issues. “Too often, resources for LGBTQ people and their families are centered on white narratives, which may neglect or unintentionally exclude the experiences of people of color.”

Advocate for more inclusive educational spaces. Do the educational programs your company support have policies that help or hurt black LGBTQ youth? How do you know? Are your adult mentors of at-risk teens fluent in the intersectional issues of race and sexuality? “Partner with advocates and organizations doing reform around subjective disciplinary standards and punitive justice in order to create an environment where Black and African American LGBTQ youth feel safe and are not targeted by unjust systems.”

Make sure the health care professionals in your ecosystem are on board. Are you in a position to influence the health care offerings in your organization or the programs you support? “Black and African American people face significant barriers to accessing affirming and appropriate health care,” the study finds. “We must reconcile historical trauma at the hands of medical providers, socioeconomic barriers and cultural stigma that prevent access to necessary and competent health care.”

Support policy reform that impacts Black and African American LGBTQ youth. If issue campaigns are part of your corporate identity, make sure you’re considering the unmet needs of this population in that work – from education to criminal justice reform, homelessness, income inequality, environmental justice, access to compassionate health care, and beyond.

Corporations are in a unique position to advocate for inclusivity in every issue they embrace and tend to get results when they do. (The collective work to get the discriminatory North Carolina “bathroom bill” repealed is a terrific example.) But even if you’re not in a position to launch a massive campaign, maybe just start with the employee two seats over, who may be worried about how their gay, or bi, or transgender, or gender fluid, or questioning kid is doing. What do they need?



On Point

Burberry draped a noose on a model on the runway, is very sorryYes, really. The outfit, which included a hoodie, debuted during London Fashion Week, created an immediate firestorm when the model also wore a noose around her neck like a scarf or something. Here’s the twist: The model who wore it, Liz Kennedy, was a leading voice in the criticism, saying publicly that her objections to the noose as an accessory were ignored. Instead of being fired or blackballed, she and the world got an apology. “We are deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our A/W 2019 runway collection Tempest,” said the Burberry CEO in a statement provided to Fortune. “I called Ms. Kennedy to apologize as soon as I became aware of this on Monday and we immediately removed the product and all images that featured it.” Click through for the rationale for the noose, and then spend the rest of the week shaking your damn head.Fortune

New York City ends discrimination based on natural and other hairstyles
New York City Commission on Human Rights is releasing guidelines this week that says that the targeting of employees for their hair – including untrimmed styles, natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, and Afros – will now be considered racial discrimination. The change in law gives new recourse for people who have been harassed, fired or otherwise threatened in the workplace about their choice of hairstyle. The Commission is free to levy fines up to $250,000, and there is no cap on damages. These rules are believed to be the first of their kind in the U.S. and don’t apply to hair safety nets or similar adjustments, as long as the rule applies to everyone.
New York Times

The Trump administration advocates for LGBTQ equality
I had to read this story twice to make sure I understood it, and I’m still not sure that I do. The Trump administration is launching a campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in the countries where it is still illegal to be gay. The campaign kicked off yesterday in Berlin, led by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration. The countries in question are mostly in Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East, which puts Iran squarely on notice. The strategy is still being developed, but LGBTQ leaders from across Europe are on hand for discussions.  So, this is good news, right? I'll be hunting for smart analysis in the coming days.
NBC News

Colin Kaepernick won more than a settlement
Jemele Hill, staff writer for The Atlantic, makes the argument that the legalese around the quarterback’s collusion case against the NFL isn’t what matters. “Technically, Colin Kaepernick withdrew his collusion case,” she begins. “Technically, the NFL did not admit that it conspired to blackball Kaepernick from the league after he began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.” But the undisclosed sum Kaepernick will receive speaks volumes. “[W]hat matters is that he bested a league that has a long history of pummeling its opposition in court, especially players,” she says.
The Atlantic


On Background

How teachers are considering equity in their grading practices
This is the second in a valuable two-part series about equitable grading practices. The first one sets up the issue: Students with identical academic performances often receive different grades based on the grading style of teachers. But grading with an eye to equity, which may include revising grading policies, and things like attitudes toward extensions and extra credit could yield important results. “Many times the grading practices teachers use inadvertently punish students with fewer resources,” says former principal and administrator Joe Feldman. Grades as a behavioral management tool – docking points for late submissions, for example, don’t measure mastery, nor is it a character-building exercise for under-resourced kids with complicated home lives.

Remembering the time that the FBI targeted black independent bookstores
It was in large part, the fear of a black “Messiah,” a man (most likely) so influential that he would “unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.” This was the specific fear of the communist-hunting FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in the 1950s, who had come to believe that black nationalism would play into communist hands to form a direct threat to U.S. democracy. Later, in 1968, Hoover directed his agents to focus on black independent booksellers, which he considered to be a hotbed of extremism and a threat to white supremacy. The investigation included an effort to recruit black people to spy on the bookstores and their owners.

The global diversity in the way humans think
Much of the research on the way humans think has been based on the study of psychological subjects who were WEIRD, a handy acronym for western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic. Turns out, making the way WEIRDs think a universal standard is a real problem. If you reach out to other parts of the world or even other parts of a country (rural versus urban, for example) you’ll encounter people who think very differently. Some of the most notable differences involve individualism vs. collectivism—or whether you consider yourself independent from, or intertwined with others. A strong need for individual success brings with it consumerism and overconfidence, for example. A fascinating must-read.


Honestly, I’ve felt alone my whole life, really… I grew up isolating myself  because I lived in fear of judgment from other people… I was too afraid to take that chance to be judged. I remember in seventh grade, I came out to one of my friends, but I didn’t tell my best friends, because I was too nervous…It helped me learn that I was my biggest judge and as soon as I learned not to judge myself, the coming out process became a lot easier…It’s important to remember that our feelings are valid and important and we’re not alone.
—Hayley Kiyoko