McAuliffe releases plan to advance LGBTQ+ rights
Terry McAuliffe today released his plan to further protect LGBTQ+ rights and break down the disparities with LGBTQ+ communities, particularly communities of color, and their experience in public safety, health care, education, the economy and the workplace.
McAuliffe, a former governor running for a second shot at running state government, is pledging to improve access to critical health services for LGBTQ+ people, repeal Virginia’s “conscience clause” and end discrimination against LGBTQ+ people wishing to foster or adopt children in need, enact an anti-bullying law to protect students, improve housing stability, and require health care professionals and law enforcement personnel to complete cultural competency training.
The McAuliffe plan also commits the Commonwealth to working with President Biden’s Administration to improve data collection efforts to support LGBTQ+ communities and break down racial disparities.
While Virginia has made tremendous progress over the past eight years in combating discrimination against LGBTQ+ Virginians, including the recent success of eliminating the “Gay Panic Defense” that for too long provided a defense against hate commit crimes against LGBTQ+ Virginians, much work remains for Virginia’s next governor. LGBTQ+ youth continue to experience greater risk of suicidal thoughts and mental health disorders.
These numbers are even more striking for transgender communities of color, with 59 percent of Black transgender and nonbinary youth reporting a history of suicidal thoughts or attempts. Black transgender people also face some of the greatest economic disparities nationwide, with 34 percent reporting a household income of less than $10,000 per year, and an unemployment rate of 26 percent, four times the rate of the general population.
McAuliffe is committing to ensure that LGBTQ+ youth are able to access the inclusive and supportive services they need by increasing funding for the Virginia Mental Health Access Program. He will provide additional funding to develop specialized, culturally appropriate outreach programs and services to support LGBTQ+ youth so that every child can access the care they need.
McAuliffe will also work to create a more equitable post-COVID Virginia that lifts up and protects the LGBTQ+ community, particularly Black transgender Virginians. He will enact an anti-bullying law and implement the Virginia Department of Education’s new model policy to protect and affirm transgender students, invest in safe and inclusive housing and shelters, and increase access to culturally competent health and mental health care.
State Sen. Adam P. Ebbin, the first openly gay member of the General Assembly, has endorsed the McAuliffe plan.
“We are at a critical inflection point in this nation’s history, and Virginia’s next governor must be ready on day one to take the unique challenges affecting the LGBTQ+ community head-on,” Ebbin said. “Terry McAuliffe has the record, the vision, and compassion needed to continue the hard work of creating a more inclusive, safe, and equitable Commonwealth for all Virginians. This plan is a bold step toward creating a stronger, more inclusive Virginia.”
“LGBTQ+ Virginians have faced discrimination and inequities for too long because of who they are or who they love. I am proud of the progress Virginia has made in protecting the LGBTQ+ community over the past eight years, but our work is far from over,” McAuliffe said. “As governor, I will fight my heart out to make Virginia the most open, welcoming and inclusive state in the nation, and break down the disparities that LGBTQ+ communities, and particularly communities of color, face in education, health care, the economy and more. Together, we’ll move Virginia forward into a better, brighter future for all.”