6 Reasons Minnesota’s Still Behind in LGBTQ Equality

Categories: Staff Commentary

There’s a lot to celebrate about being an LGBTQ Minnesotan.

Historically, Minnesota has led the way for LGBTQ equality. Our civil rights charter was one of the first to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender. We were the first state in the union to defeat an anti-marriage amendment. The Twin Cities are known throughout the country as a welcoming, accepting place for LGBTQ individuals and businesses.

But things aren’t necessarily looking up for our state’s LGBT youth. The truth is this: there is plenty of on-the-ground work to be done to achieve equality not just in our legal rights, but also in our safety, our security, and our success as Minnesotans.

Despite Minnesota’s great track record as a warm and welcoming place for LGBTQ citizens, our community faces alarming disparities.

Here are the top 6 ways Minnesota—and the US—is still behind the curve with LGBTQ issues:

  1. Even with workplace protections, 78% of trans and gender diverse employees experience harassment or mistreatment on the job.
  2. Despite safe schools legislations, 73% of bisexual high school girls face anxiety and depression, as compared to 37% of straight high school girls.
  3. Despite protections under the Affordable Care Act, the National Institutes Health named the LGBTQ community a “health disparity population,” meaning our identities make us more predisposed to disease, chemical dependency, and mental health issues.
  4. Despite equal housing protections, LGBTQ youth are 6 times more likely to be homeless than their straight peers.
  5. Despite a perception of inclusivity and support, an estimated 4,700 Minnesota youth face homelessness on any given night, 40% of whom are LGBTQ.
  6. Despite its philanthropic history, Minnesota is behind in investing in LGBTQ support. Of the $1.6 billion that foundations and corporations grant annually in Minnesota, only 0.05% (yes, 0.05 percent!) focuses on these areas of need. This is one-fifth of the national average. Where other states spend a quarter of every $100 on LGBTQ issues, Minnesota spends five cents.

These staggering disparities are even more prevalent for LGBTQ people of color—who are six times more likely to live in poverty than their white counterparts. From a position of poverty, these teens have an even harder time finding support and navigating the systems necessary to finish their education, obtain work, and build a pathway to success.

Minnesota is a great place to live for many LGBTQ people, but it isn’t true for everyone. There’s so much we can be doing to change that.

Here’s the good news: people are already hard at work building and supporting our communities. We have always been resilient, taking care of our friends and families when no one else would, and there are amazing programs and organizations doing fantastic work supporting our community.

Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Arise Project has invested over a million dollars in LGBTQ youth homelessness programs, transforming the ways that outreach workers, drop-in centers, and shelters support LGBTQ youth—all thanks to generous individuals like you who have decided to prioritize their gifts and focus on solving these problems.

Organizations across our metro are now focused on the unique strengths and needs of LGBTQ youth, and providing them with supports that work for them. We know that these community-specific programs work for our community, and as a leader in this space, United Way is  working with others to help build a foundation of support for our entire community.

Arise Project isn’t doing this work on our own. The disparities we’re facing need community-led solutions, and we need the support of the broader Twin Cities community to do it.

We are only as strong as our dedicated volunteers, donors, and community partners. We know that collective impact comes in the individual kindness of people in our community—every hour volunteered, every dollar given, every moment spent working for youth adds up to a life-changing network of support for LGBTQ youth.

As we become increasingly aware of what our community needs and how to best provide it, your commitment to this work is even more important.

On national Give OUT Day (April 19), rise up and join us to make sure that every LGBTQ person in our community has what they need to enjoy the great place we call home. By making a gift, you’ll be joining a community of champions who make the work of Arise Project possible.


Sam BlackwellCommunity Impact Program Manager Sam Blackwell oversees United Way’s Housing Stability goal area, including the work of the Arise Project. Sam is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has lived in the Twin Cities for a decade; he has a strong commitment to improving our community and to helping build pathways out of poverty in our community.

Connect with Sam on LinkedIn or Twitter @samblackwell

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