Government Mandates Watch:
After the Non-Discrimination Ordinance was passed in the fall of 2013, the LGBTQ advisory council to San Antonio Mayor has been advising Nirenberg on how to implement the ordinance on local businesses, enterprises, and institutions in San Antonio.
We now have a “resiliency team” in San Antonio which is being funded by the Robert Wood Johnston Foundation under the guise of a health study to collect data on precisely what the needs and population of the LGBTQ community in San Antonio are. San Antonio has since been granted two awards from the Robert Wood Johnston Foundation, under the title of the “Interdisciplinary Research Grant Award.” The board members consist of Dr. Amy Stone from Trinity University, Dr. Philip Schnarrs from Dell Medical/UT Austin, and Robert Salcedo Jr., Associated with “Pride San Antonio.” These research grants were awarded to the team in February of 2018. The LGBQT Advisory Council was able to prove by the taking of initial data of 82 San Antonio Residents. Evidence showed that the LGBTQ community had a greater overall disease burden and worse health outcomes than their heterosexual counterparts.
The research the advisory board will undertake will attempt answer three questions:
1) The current capacity that San Antonio has in order to address the health and social needs of the LGBTQ community.
2) The underlying factors that contribute to health issues impacting our community
3) The ways in which the LGBTQ community copes with both racial and ethnic discrimination and “sexually related discrimination.”
Mayor Nirenberg gave an opening speech to the meeting on Wednesday, October 30, 2018 and stated, “San Antonio must continue our fight for inclusion because of looming federal threats…. We must not retreat from equal rights for all, any change in federal policy which erases the rights of transgender Americans and dictates gender orientation is a discriminatory step backward. These community leaders represent for us some of the most resilient stories in San Antonio. Their activism and leadership in the LGBTQ community and our community in San Antonio has varied because of you, so the feedback of everyone today, and the feedback prior to today has been very important …. I am very proud to be part of a community which holds inclusion and compassion as two of its most fundamental values.”
When the Mayor was asked on what the next step on enforcing the NDO on local businesses, enterprises, and institutions was, he responded, “That is exactly the question the advisory council is digging into right now… that is policy recommendations….so please provide your feedback to the group. Some of the members here are asking the same question…we are getting some base-line data with this survey, ultimately the advisory council is meant to advise policy-makers.”
Dr. Amy Stone of Trinity University conducted interviews with 82 people. The goal for the advisory board was to interview 30 people form the Hispanic community, 30 people form the black community and 30 from the white LGBTQ community to find stories about health and resilience. This survey on “resilience” in the initial grant study did not include questions about STDs, HIV, or substance abuse.
After the initial study was conducted, Dr. Stone presented five major issues that came up with the LGBTQ individuals who were interviewed.
•The first was that of childhood trauma.
•Second that two out of five of the interviewees suffered from mental issues, such as anxiety and depression, which excluded those of gender disorder and substance abuse.
•Thirdly, 40% reported some type of sexual abuse between the ages of 15 and 20, from various racial backgrounds.
•Fourth, Dr. Stone cited poverty as a health issue. She stated the average salary in San Antonio as being around $48,000 a year and that less than half of the LGBTQ community made this average salary. In fact, 15% of the LGBTQ community are unemployed for reasons unrelated to be a student, or for “reasons unrelated to the community”. This is three times higher than the city-wide unemployment rate.
•Lastly, the issue of sensible healthcare was lacking for individuals in the LGBTQ community. They were unable to provide sensible healthcare for themselves not only for “gender affirming treatment, but for that of finding a general practitioner.
The second survey will be conducted in the summer of 2019 and will address these issues on a much broader scale. The LGBTQ advisory committee plans on interviewing 1000 people from the San Antonio LGBTQ community to collect more base-line data over a three year study.
When the committee was asked how the series of surveys would help implement the NDO, Mr. Salcedo’s response was the Pride Center of SA plans to coordinate with other organizations who can help implement the NDO. Secondly, at the policy level, to take the data gathered and present it to the Mayor and City Council members, where the data points to a gap in the community. He used the analogy of stories the LGBTQ community had given the “Pride” organization supporting the premise that discrimination against this community did indeed take place, even though members had no evidence for this in San Antonio. Salcedo CLAIMS that they will have the evidence they need to implement policy change. Salcedo also proclaimed that the LGBTQ advisory committee plans on using the data to implement statewide change and enforcement eventually working with state-wide organizations such as the Transgender Education Network of Texas or EqualityTexas, and continued stating that an “even loftier goal would be to go to national organizations and advocacy groups for ways on how the changes can be implemented on a much broader scale across America.”