Keep up-to-date with news, opinions and analysis on LGBT life in the South

 

The LGBT South is a weekly email newsletter, compiling national, regional, and local news important to LGBT Southerners. Subscribe to get the latest edition to your inbox every Friday morning and keep up with what the Campaign for Southern Equality is up to!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“There’s a connection between the HIV epidemic and the mass incarceration epidemic we have in this country. The reality is that we do a really good job of locking up people who have risk factors for HIV. That’s a byproduct of who we lock up. We lock up people of color and people who have mental health issues.”

 – Dr. David Wohl, co-director of HIV Services at the N.C. Department of Corrections and professor at the UNC School of Medicine

Here’s your breakdown of what’s happening this week in the #LGBTsouth:

HEALTHCARE FOR ALL

The proposed Senate bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act lost support from more Republican Senators this week, making it impossible for it to garner the number of votes needed to pass. Although the bill hasn’t officially been voted on, this is good news, but likely temporary. Republicans have made it clear they will not stop in their efforts to end the ACA, which would be devastating for millions of Americans.

In the meantime, some of the effects of proposed cuts are already becoming clear. Cuts to Planned Parenthood, a major platform point for Republicans, have led to higher rates of teen pregnancies and abortions in Texas, contrary to lawmakers’ goals to decrease abortions by slashing PP’s funds. These funding cuts would also be devastating for HIV prevention efforts. Planned Parenthood gives hundreds of thousands of HIV tests each year, provides education about sexual health and STI prevention, and distributes PReP in some locations.

Without insurance, the cost of medications to treat HIV can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year, which many people living with HIV cannot afford. A clear illustration of this issue is the fact that a new study from UNC and Texas Christian University has shown that when people living with HIV are released from prison, it becomes harder for them to access treatment since it is much more regimented and required within prisons. There are large overlaps among the populations at risk of contracting HIV and those at risk of being incarcerated – people of color, LGBTQ folks, people with mental health and substance abuse needs, and poor people. These populations are already often overlooked and have less access to competent, affordable care, making the effects of health care cuts even more devastating.

KEEPING THE FAITH

As the country on the whole becomes simultaneously more supportive of LGBTQ folks and less religious, many faith traditions are questioning how and whether to adapt to these changing social attitudes. While Christianity is often the major focus of conversation in the South, many churches are experiencing this shift.

In Idaho, a professor at  a branch of the Mormon-affiliated Brigham-Young University was fired after voicing her support for LGBTQ rights om her personal Facebook account. The Mormon church has been publicly grappling with its stance on LGBTQ people lately, and some members have been pushing back or even leaving the church in the wake of policies instated last year condemning people in same-sex marriages and prohibiting their children from being baptized in the church until they turn 18.

The steady increase in folks identifying as nonbinary also presents certain challenges. The Southern Baptist Convention recently published a version of the Bible that takes a more gender-inclusive approach in its language, and in the Jewish faith, synagogues are navigating how to give aliyah, honorary readings from the Torah which use gendered pronouns and terms like “son” and “daughter”, for nonbinary congregants.

But it is a two-way street. LGBTQ folks of certain faiths are routinely excluded or made invisible by the current movement. Muslim folks face some of the same Islamophobic sentiment within our community as in the country at large, and conversations about anti-Semitism in the queer community as well as the broader context of Jewish LGBTQ identity are ongoing. This interview with Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest who recently wrote a book about bridging the Catholic Church and LGBTQ community, offers advice on how to talk to religious conservatives about LGBTQ identity; at the same time, we need to have conversations among ourselves about how to honor and include each others’ faiths in our push for equality.

WHAT ELSE?

WHAT THE CAMPAIGN FOR SOUTHERN EQUALITY IS UP TO

Healthcare is a vital issue for everyone, but it’s a particularly important issue for trans folks. Time and again we hear from people who have been denied coverage of care related to their medical transition. Sometimes this is because they’re working with a doctor who doesn’t know how to code trans related care in a way to get it covered, and sometimes folks aren’t aware that they can appeal an insurance denial.

With that in mind, the Campaign for Southern Equality has compiled this Insurance Coding fact sheet to provide information about ICD-10 insurance codes and corresponding diagnoses and treatments the codes are related to. This information can help inform medical providers about insurance codes for trans healthcare that are commonly accepted and rejected.

This document is intended to assist trans people in advocating for themselves with their healthcare providers and insurance companies. We shouldn’t have to provide trans education while we’re in the stirrups, and this tool is designed to help trans people navigate medical transition from the initial coding from a doctor to the appeals process with an insurance provider.


The LGBT Institute at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, along with Georgia State University, is conducting a survey of LGBTQ Southerners to amplify the voices of LGBTQ Southerners and highlight the issues affecting our lives. This is a study of, by, and for Southern LGBTQ people, with the support of many community and grassroots organizations.

The need for this survey has become even more urgent as LGBTQ people are being erased from government policy and research: LGBTQ questions from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP) and the upcoming 2020 United States Census are now gone. Our voices are needed now. Please use this survey to tell your story. Let’s make clear that our lives and experiences will not be erased.


We are excited to launch Safe Schools, Safe Communities, a new round of rapid response grants to promote safety in schools and communities across the South. 

We’re open to all kinds of ideas. If it will make your community safer, we want to hear about it – whether you’re organizing a rally to speak out against violence against trans women of color; hosting trainings to provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants; educating legislators about the importance of access to affordable healthcare; or building a coalition of staff, faculty and parents to reduce bullying against LGBTQ, immigrant and Muslim students.

We need all of these efforts and more to protect and defend those who are most vulnerable in our communities across the South. Click here to apply for funding today.

We will accept and review applications for grants of up to $500 on an ongoing basis. Applicants will receive a response within one month of submission.