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My Rights are Everyone’s Rights: Five Reasons Why Queers Should Give a Damn About Reproductive Justice

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April 18, 2012

It’s a common question in LGBTQIA groups: Why hop on the reproductive justice bandwagon when I don’t need birth control? Homosexuals cannot even have kids. Remind me what this has to do with us again? Why is this our responsibility?

As gender and sexual minorities (GSMs), we’re skeptical. I know I was.

As humans, we are highly connected to one another’s oppression. We all have mothers, sisters, and female-identified friends whose rights to healthcare and liberty are constantly being challenged. Additionally, as LGBTQIA individuals, we have unique experiences with the way systems of oppression work. Knowing what we know alone is a call to action. To quote the feminist poet Emma Lazarus, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

We at Choice USA believe that reproductive justice is a sexual and gender liberation effort that both includes and transcends feminism. Reproductive justice is not just about female-born women: It is about everyone—including us queers.

1. Comprehensive Sex Education

Envision the classroom of the future. Bookbags double as jetpacks; desktops have built-in computer screens, and the substitute teacher is a robot named Ms. Linda. The most radical inclusion of all? Comprehensive sex education.

A right to sex education is as imperative as a good mathematics curriculum. Youth need the resources to both explore and accept responsibility for their sexuality. While many school systems mandate student participation in a reproductive health course, government-funded abstinence-only education is still a reality. Additionally, the number of schools which have a GSM-inclusive curriculum is still slim. To add insult to injury, there are instances where homosexual sex is broached as a topic, only to be used as an HIV/AIDS scare tactic.

2. Accessible healthcare

Crafted in 2010, the Affordable Health Care for America Act has already done a lot of good in its two years of existence, including enabling women inexpensive access to birth control, pap smears, and other reproductive necessities. The AHCfAA also vows to make health care available to all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It was recently discovered that GSMs are more affected by chronic diseases than other demographics. AHCfAA acknowledges that 30% of Americans living with HIV/AIDS to not have any coverage. By allowing Americans to remain on their parental insurance plans until they turn 26 and garner medical care through government insurance plans, President Obama’s administration has fulfilled a promise to the American people.

3. Blood donation

Few acts are more noble than giving blood. For gay men in the United States, however, this relatively painless action has been off-limits for over thirty years. Since 1977, the US Food and Drug Administration regulations have deferred any man who has had sex with men from donating blood. This decision has been upheld as recently as 2010.

Blood shortage has become a nationwide epidemic, to the point where surgeries have been postponed. Donations could not be more imperative, yet a large part of the population is still being denied the ability to donate.

4. Relationship recognition

As of April 2012, only six states—including the District of Columbia—have legalized gay marriage. Couples who remain unmarried in states which do not offer civil unions face the loss of hundreds of rights, including the right to inheritance and the right to visit an ailing partner.

If conservative politicians genuinely cared about the state of our mixed economy, they would loosen up the patriarchal girdle. It is estimated that New York’s economy will receive, at its very least, a $284 billion boost from the first three years of legalized gay marriage.

Furthermore, couples who wish to adopt may be denied. While ten states presently allow gay adoption, many exclude couples of all orientations who are not legally wed. These legalities have prevented deserving children from becoming parts of loving families, and have jeopardized the livelihood of those which have already been adopted.

5. Workplace rights

Employment is a crucial key in having access to quality health care. As a part of 2010’s Affordable Health Care Act, employers now have access to affordable insurance plans for their employees. However, it is still legal to fire or discriminate against an employee because of his or her sexual orientation in 29 states. 39 states have yet to protect trans* employees, who may also experience the same occupational fate.

Between 3% and 12% of the American workforce identifies LGBTQIA. An unprecedented amount of innovative minds are out and proud at work, from the lawmakers we elect to the director of your favorite film. It is up to us to ensure that their bodies have fair, accessible healthcare.

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