Next weekend, leaders of Nebraska’s LGBT community will gather to start setting the agenda for October’s Inspiring Community conference. The 49Voices campaign and the conference has a singular goal: make Nebraska a better place for LGBT people. So this begs the question: what would this Nebraska look like to you?
Last fall, I asked you to say what your priorities were. The feedback was incredible. You were concerned about discrimination, safety and the ability of all Nebraskans to care for their families. So, how would you know we have accomplished that? What would your job, your family, your faith community, your social life be like? What would schools be like? What would your neighborhood be like?
Share the Nebraska that you want to live in below, and then visit the Take Action page for a way you can get closer to this Nebraska right now!
I just learned that the Board of Mental Health Practice will be holding a hearing on May 6 to gain input on a proposed provider non-discrimination policy. So, I have to ask: who do you know that has needed mental health care?
There are many ways to help LGBT people get the mental health care they need. One is through policies like the one the Board of Mental Health Practice supported in July 2009. Here’s what you need to know about where things will stand on May 6:
- The policy includes both sexual orientation and gender identity as well as a requirement to refer when a provider is unable, for any reason, to care for a patient.
- The language surrounding the referral is needlessly complex in order to appease the Nebraska Catholic Conference, not to protect patients and not to match what the professional associations use.
- The only thing that stopped a bad policy from moving forward last year was your speaking out. Once again, it will be you and other members and friends of Nebraska’s LGBT community that can make a difference.
Providers of mental health care and public officials also need to know why mental health care is so important. Move this conversation forward by saying in the comments why mental health matters to you. We can help LGBT people receive care by telling providers what its like to be an LGBT person in Nebraska.
Another is to hep LGBT people know which mental health providers support them. You can build a provider list today by making a recommendation through OUTLinc, Lincoln’s LGBT Community Center. Know of another directory? Please post about it in the comments!
Nebraskans can play a major role in repealing the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Senator Ben Nelson sits on the Armed Services committee which is likely to hear measures that would allow openly-LGBT people to serve their country through military service.
What You Can Do Today
- Write a letter to Sen. Nelson. Thank him for Co-sponsoring the Matthew Shepard Act and standing up for LGBT people when the rest of Nebraska’s delegates were turning their backs to us. Ask him to once again speak out against discrimination and support repeal of DADT.
- Write a letter to your local newspaper. Give a personal story or say why you think LGBT people should be able to serve openly.
- Help Vets Speak Out. Send this survey to those you know that have served in the armed forces.
Visit 49Voices.org for tips on speaking out and contact information for elected officials and press outlets.
To help make these things happen, Karl Bach from the Human Rights Campaign will be on the ground in Nebraska starting March 9. If you are interested in having him come to your community or event, please email him or call him at 202-280-5407. You can also connect with Karl on OUTLinc.org.
The government-sanctioned discrimination in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy gives justification to the discrimination LGBT people face in other parts of their lives, such as in employment or with the recent struggle to ensure no one in Nebraska is turned away from mental health care because of who they are.
You can make a difference. Stand up against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” today.
It may be a new year, but its the same story: religious extremists are putting politics before people. I need you to speak out again.
You may remember that last year the Board of Mental Health stood up to the Nebraska Catholic Conference and supported a policy ground in professional ethics. A policy you helped to move forward by your comments to the Board of Mental Health and in the media (review this regulation’s two-year history).
Now the Nebraska Catholic Conference and Dr. Joann Schaefer are trying to move a policy forward that doesn’t ensure everyone receives the mental health care they need. A policy that’s been put together behind closed doors and without guidance from professional mental health organizations.
Will you take a moment to contact the Board of Mental Health and Dr. Schaefer? Let them know that you want the Board of Mental Health’s suggested nondiscrimination policy to be the one that moves forward.
Thank you for all you do,
– Tyler Richard
P.S. – The Board of Mental Health may discuss this at their meeting on Friday, January 8th. Please contact them today.
Some of the students at Hastings College want you to join them on February 19, 20th, 2010 for Inspiring Community: Building a Better Nebraska for LGBTQ People.
Are you excited about gathering with others from around Nebraska to make a difference? Say why in the comments!
Paying for college is tough. I was proud I got into a school in my home state of Nebraska and was willing to do my part in working to pay for my education. I was also proud to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Nebraska. What I didn’t know is this support would one day leave me without the job I needed to pay for school.
That’s why its so important to me that you call your state senator today. Around the state there are people who are hiding who they are because they fear it will end their employment. People who won’t put up a photo of their partner, or talk with co-workers about what they did over the weekend. People settle for jobs that aren’t quit right, just because its the only place they feel safe.
I grew up believing that I could be whatever I wanted. I need you to help keep my dream, and the dreams of other. Please take a moment to call your state senator today.
Morgan, College Student
From Omaha and Lincoln to Scottsbluff and Gering, you spoke out. You said what matters to you, and what you need to make change happen. Thank you.
And what did you say? While there were many things that you said were important to you, members and friends of Nebraska’s LGBT community made on thing very clear: We want a Nebraska where no one was denied access to health care, housing, public accommodations, social services and employment because of who they are.
Now its time to make your priorities known. On Tuesday, October 13, just after National Coming Out Day, will you call your state senator and ask them to come out in support of employment protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity?
Why employment protections? People must be able to provide for themselves first and foremost. When someone is afraid they will loose their job for speaking out, they can’t work on other issues that matter to them.
Why in Nebraska? Our state senators need to look out for all of Nebraska’s residents. We cannot let them avoid the issue by relying on federal legislation.
It will take less than 5 minutes to call your state senator on Tuesday. Instructions and a sample message will be available on this website. Sign-up to call today to ensure you receive the information on Tuesday.
AND! You don’t have to wait to talk to your friends, family or a local newspaper about how important ensuring people are judged by the merit of their work is to you. Check out the tips that are available!
What will you say to your state senator when you call?