Discrimination of any kind, hurts all kinds

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Robert Espinoza, Director of Research and Communications for Funders for LGBTQ Issues, at a conference a few weeks ago. I always enjoy meeting people that are passionate about their work and that are committed to making the field of philanthropy better and Robert is one of those people. Funders for LGBTQ Issues recently released a toolkits for funders and below is a post from Robert explaining why the toolkit is so needed in our field. From Robert:

At Funders for LGBTQ Issues, a national philanthropic group that studies US foundation giving to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities, a flash bulb in our annual research shed light on a lingering disparity.

In 2007, our research tracked 71 foundations in the US that gave roughly $3.6 million to organizations explicitly serving LGBTQ people of color. Considering that the broader philanthropic portrait contains more than 72,000 foundations giving nearly $43 billion, support for LGBTQ people of color revealed itself as a blip, an almost invisible pixel.

Sociology teaches us that societal barriers play out through our economy, public and institutional policies, mass media and everyday interactions. They rear their heads as bigotry, stereotypes and unfair representations. They persist from generation to generation, seemingly intractable and often coded in values of individualism. “If the lone, talented public figure can make it,”—goes the myth of meritocracy—“why can’t everyone?”

And yet for decades, studies have emphasized how deeply embedded discrimination, produced across generations, has critically impacted the quality of life and self-advancement of communities of color—despite the same level of individual effort. For LGBTQ people of color, these conditions are exacerbated by attitudes and structures that treat people differently based on their sexualities and their gender identities and expressions.

As evidence, a growing body of research continues to demonstrate this "heightened vulnerability" among LGBTQ people of color—to health risks, verbal and physical violence, and institutional discrimination, among other areas. LGBTQ people of color also face the disregard of institutions; they are relatively unexplored as research topics and rarely considered as constituencies affected by public policies or in need of culturally and linguistically sensitive services.

So what happens when organizations that were set up to reverse these conditions receive little support from philanthropic sources? What becomes of a healthy civil society when its most vulnerable populations remain impoverished? Is this how philanthropy upholds its purpose?

Read the rest here.