Employers to share experiences finding and creating LGBT+ friendly work environments

A pride flag displayed in a room at WMU's valley dorms. 

On June 12, the Trump administration announced it would roll-back an Obamacare regulation that would prohibit discrimination in health care against patients who are transgender. 

This change occurred two weeks into Pride Month and on the four-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. 

In 2016, Obama's administration changed federal health care guidelines to expand protections based on gender identity, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination.

However, the Department of Health and Human Services released a statement June 12 that said this rule is based on the plain meaning of the word 'sex' as male or female and as determined by biology.

OutFront Kalamazoo released a statement the same day of this event, calling the change, devastating.

“As the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic, there could not be a more disgraceful time to allow the denial of medical care based on who you are,” said Grayson Valenti, director of operations and communications manager at OutFront Kalamazoo.

Those who know someone in the community who is being denied health care or health insurance coverage is encouraged to contact OutFront Kalamazoo’s office.

Nathan Nguyen, director of the Office of LBGT Student Services at WMU, said it was like a punch to the gut that this change was made during Pride Month.

“I don’t think that this was a coincidence, I believe it was intentional,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen said the best thing for allies to be doing right now is gaining knowledge on what it means to be an ally. 

He said that allies should do what they are comfortable with, but should advocate for those whose voices are not included. 

He said it is an ally’s job to make a space safe for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as any others being advocated for.

He also added that it is important to call people out if things they say or do are homophobic or transphobic.

After this decision, the Supreme Court ruled that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under federal civil rights law on June 15.

OutFront Kalamazoo released a statement on June 23, asking for donations to outlast the impact of COVID-19 and continue to provide a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ+ individuals. 

“OutFront Kalamazoo must maintain, and ultimately expand its efforts to co-create a community that is just, inclusive, equitable, and supportive for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions,” the release said.

Those who wish to donate to OutFront Kalamazoo can at https://www.paypal.me/outfrontkzoo.

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