Non-Discrimination Policies

Legal equality does not mean lived equality. Despite progress in creating safe, accessible, and affirming spaces for LGBTQ people in all areas of public life in Maryland, there is still work to do to ensure that LGBTQ Marylanders can access inclusive services from public and private institutions.

Why is this important?

Discrimination and stigma negatively impact the safety, health, and wellbeing of LGBTQ people. Public health research has demonstrated how exclusion, marginalization, and fear of violence experienced by sexual and gender minorities in everyday life increases the level of stress they experience, leading to disproportionately negative health outcomes. As a result, ending discrimination in laws and in practice is necessary to ensure that LGBTQ can live healthy and equal lives.

Yet, discriminatory laws, regulations, and practices remain prevalent across public and private institutions in Maryland. Discrimination is experienced in housing, employment, healthcare, restrooms, schools, public spaces, and private businesses.

What are the Issues and What Can We Do?       

Trans Inclusive Public Spaces

Discrimination against LGBTQ Elders

  • LGBTQ+ elders who reside in long-term care facilities, including nursing facilities, immediate care facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly, often face discrimination and harassment. In FreeState Justice’s house meetings, many LGBTQ+ elders recounted various forms of discrimination experienced in nursing homes, including fear that same-sex married couples may not be allowed to reside together and fear of experiencing disrespect and marginalization because of a lack of training for health care staff and non-discrimination policies. The right to live in security with respect and dignity are rights that LGBTQ people should access at every stage and in ever area of life. This bill provides essential non-discrimination protections to ensure that LGBTQ+ elders can live without fear of discrimination and marginalization. In 2020, we advanced a Bill of Rights for LGBTQ elders to create safe and dignified spaces in which they can lead their lives. This bill would have prohibited discrimination against an individual or resident in a healthcare facility based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status, and it would have required each health care facility to add these categories to its existing non-discrimination policy.

Lack of safe, affirming spaces

  • Fear and exclusion continue to prevent LGBTQ Marylanders and their families from leading safe and healthy lives with full access to dignity and rights. So, in 2020, FreeState championed the creation of an LGBTQ State Commission. A commission charged with collecting data across State agencies on the implementation of LGBTQ-inclusive policies and complaints alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity can provide essential coordination and oversight functions, ensuring Maryland’s policies live up to their principles of inclusivity, dignity and respect. In addition, it will provide critical knowledge for the state’s agencies and local governments by studying and establishing best practices for inclusion of LGBTQ individuals and communities across the State. Finally, its annual report including recommendations on policies for LGBTQ adults and youth that work to end discriminatory practices in the State will be a central source of knowledge for policy makers in the future. Through its knowledge production, policy, and coordination functions, LGBTQ Commission will play a supportive role for State and local governments in ensuring equality, respect and dignity for LGBTQ Marylanders.

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