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6 Reasons Minnesota’s Still Behind in LGBTQ Equality

There’s a lot to celebrate about being an LGBTQ Minnesotan.

Historically, Minnesota has led the way for LGBTQ equality. Our civil rights charter was one of the first to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender. We were the first state in the union to defeat an anti-marriage amendment.  The Twin Cities are known as a welcoming, accepting place for LGBTQ individuals and businesses.

But things aren’t necessarily looking up for our state’s LGBT youth. The truth is this: there is plenty of on-the-ground work to be done to achieve equality not just in our legal rights, but also in our safety, our security, and our success as Minnesotans.

Here are the top 6 ways Minnesota—and the US—is still behind the curve:

  1. Despite workplace protections, trans people are twice as educated and half as employed because of workplace discrimination.
  2. Despite safe schools legislations, 73% of bisexual high school girls face anxiety and depression, as compared to 37% of straight high school girls.
  3. Despite protections under the Affordable Care Act, the National Institutes Health named the LGBTQ community a “health disparity population,” meaning our identities make us more predisposed to disease, chemical dependency, and mental health issues.
  4. Despite equal housing protections, LGBTQ youth are 6 times more likely to be homeless than their straight peers.
  5. Despite a perception of inclusivity and support, an estimated 4,700 Minnesota youth face homelessness on any given night, 40% of whom are LGBTQ.
  6. Despite its philanthropic history, Minnesota is behind in investing in LGBTQ support. Of the $1.6 billion that foundations and corporations grant annually in Minnesota, only 0.05% (yes, 0.05 percent!) focuses on these areas of need. This is one fifth of the national average. Where other states spend a quarter of every $100 on LGBTQ issues, Minnesota spends five cents.

These stats may seem grim, but here’s the good news: people are already hard at work building and supporting our communities. Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Arise Project has invested over a million dollars in LGBTQ youth homelessness programs, transforming the ways that outreach workers, drop-in centers, and shelters support LGBTQ youth—all thanks to generous individuals like you who have decided to prioritize their gifts and focus on solving these problems.

Organizations across our metro are now focused on the unique strengths and needs of LGBTQ youth, and providing them with supports that work for them. We know that these culturally-specific programs work for our communities, and as a leader in this space, United Way is working with others to help build a foundation of support for everyone that lives in our region. The disparities we’re facing need community-led solutions, and we need the support of the broader Twin Cities to do it.

We are only as strong as our dedicated volunteers, donors, and community partners. We know that collective impact comes in the individual kindness of people everywhere—every hour volunteered, every dollar given, every moment spent working for youth adds up to a life-changing network of support for LGBTQ youth.

There are a number of things we can do to support LGBTQ communities in the place that we live. There are Pride celebrations happening around the county this month. You can attend with your network to learn more about what’s happening politically and socially in your area. You can get in touch with the LGBTQ employee resource group in your company or reach out to your local LBGTQ community center. And if you live in or near the Twin Cities, consider making a gift to the Arise Project – every dollar given here stays here to support the amazing LGBTQ people who call our region home.