The protection and pursuit of LGBTQ+ rights are critical in social work. Social work is a profession that strives to defend the principles of equality, equity, and justice—our fight to realize these principles for all is far from over.
Before same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex couples could be denied health care coverage through a partner’s employer, the right to make health care decisions for each other, social security benefits and pensions on behalf of a deceased partner, inheritance in the absence of a will, and many more injustices. But achievements in securing LGBTQ+ rights are not invulnerable, as we saw evidence of yesterday.
And, there is much more work to be done, both to protect the rights already achieved and address additional needs. For example, some states do not allow same-sex individuals to become foster or adoptive parents or protect LGBTQ+ individuals from religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws. In 2018, a federal ban was put in place preventing transgender individuals from serving in the military. Many LGBTQ+ youth continue to feel unsafe and stigmatized at school and at home, are at higher risk of suicide, and between 20-40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. And, violence against trans and gender non-conforming individuals is at an all-time high.
Our code of ethics states that we “act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.” The fight for equal rights and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals is not over, and social workers are called to be at the front and center of this effort in our work and in our advocacy efforts for LGBTQ+ people.
Here are a few organizations that support this work. Please add more in the comments on our Facebook post.
American Civil Liberties Union
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Campaign
National Organization for Women
Southern Poverty Law Center
Center for American Progress
Kristen S. Slack, PhD
Professor, Interim Director, and PhD Program Chair
Lara B. Gerassi, Ph.D., LCSW
Lynette M. Studer, Ph.D., LCSW
Clinical Assistant Professor