As June comes to a close, OVW is reflecting on a month of celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month. It is an important time to reaffirm our continued support for the LGBTQI+ community. Also, it is an opportunity to reflect on LGBTQI+ rights, and how upholding those rights is a vital part of our commitment to justice and equality for all.
Protecting and advocating for LGBTQI+ rights is firmly at the core of our mission at the Office on Violence Against Women. Sadly, an estimated 25 percent to 57 percent of LGBTQI+ people suffer intimate partner violence at some point during their lives. But only an estimated one in five victims seek help, in part due to the fear of disclosure, discrimination, and/or retribution.
That’s why we’re grateful that OVW grantees across the country have been unwavering in their leadership in serving survivors. We strive to fund organizations that center LGBTQI+ survivors and that are deeply rooted in local communities and dedicated to intersectional approaches. Across our country, these organizations are the backbone to providing critical daily support to those in need.
For example, the Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse in Seattle, Washington, used OVW funds to successfully develop survivor-centric services, including medical, legal, crisis, and long-term support for the LGBTQI+ community. In Logan, Utah, Citizens Against Physical and Sexual Abuse (CAPSA) used OVW funding to provide culturally relevant programming about domestic violence, teen dating violence, and sexual assault education, as well as create a network of support for LGBTQI+ young people. OVW grants also helped the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois, to provide culturally and linguistically meaningful programs that are inclusive to the LGBTQI+ community.
And these are just a few examples – OVW grantees do an incredible amount of meaningful work to support the LGBTQI+ community. We are especially pleased that work will continue and grow with the successful reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which specifically increases services and support for underserved populations such as LGBTQI+ survivors. OVW’s 2023 budget request seeks to broaden our reach to LGBTQI+ victims who are disproportionally affected by violence and face greater barriers to safety. It includes $7 million in funding to support transgender victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Tragically, the LGBTQI+ community continues to be unfairly and unjustly targeted by hatred and discrimination. As President Biden pointed out, hateful attacks all too often encourage discrimination and violence against the LGBTQI+ community. And we can’t forget that that 45 percent of LGBTQI+ children seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year. We must do more to protect these young people and their families. Such attacks – either by discriminatory actions, hateful speech, or violent aggression – should never be tolerated. These types of discrimination add to the already existing barriers to safety that OVW is working to address with our grant programs that promote support for LGBTQI+ members and their families.
There is still much more work to do. In OVW’s blog celebrating VAWA 2022, we applauded the bill’s inclusion of provisions that create a program to provide community-specific services for LGBTQI+ survivors. This grant program will help meeting some of those unmet needs and fund programs that are by and for the LGBTQI+ community.
At OVW, we are proud to support the network of amazing LGBTQI+ community advocates who are making change and fighting for survivors every day, and we are honored to work together toward a future free from violence, hate and discrimination. We will continue to follow the lead of LGBTQI+ survivors and work tirelessly to defend and uplift LGBTQI+ rights. We deeply appreciate the opportunity to honor Pride Month with our community of grantees, advocates, survivors, and leaders, and we thank you for the change you create every single day.