Social Workers and the LGBTQ Population

The LGBTQ community continues to experience incidences of prejudice and bias. Not only are these prejudices exemplified in interpersonal interactions through slurs and violent acts but also in the policies maintained in social work agencies and institutions. An example of a governmental policy that perpetuated prejudice and myths against gays and lesbians was the ban against this community from openly serving in the military in the United States.
This policy was repealed by President Obama in 2011 after the 18-year-old ban that included a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Similar prejudicial institutional policies further negatively impact members of this community. Some of these policies include: 1.Social Security does not pay survivor benefits to the surviving same-sex life partner of someone who dies, 2. Unmarried partners are not eligible for Social Security spousal benefits, and 3. Medicaid does not offer the same asset and home protections to same-sex partners that are provided to married heterosexual couples when the other spouse enters a nursing home or long-term care facility (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2013). Social workers are expected to fight to eliminate these inequalities throughout programs and institutions.

To prepare: Consider the following statement:
NASW encourages the adoption of laws that recognize inheritance, insurance, same-sex marriage, child custody, property, and other rights in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships. The Association firmly believes that all federal protections and responsibilities available to legally married people in the United States should be available to people who enter same sex unions (including domestic partnerships, civil unions, and same sex marriages).

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