Admiral Rachel Levine calls hate a public health threat

Author: Greg Owen

As the White House implements a new strategy (first announced in June) to address anti-LGBTQ+ violence and discriminatory laws, Admiral Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says “hate — whether fueled by homophobia, transphobia, or racism — is a public health threat.”

Those threats “violate our most basic values and freedoms as Americans,” the Biden administration said when announcing the new initiative at the start of Pride Month this year.

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Justice and Homeland Security will all play a role.

In May, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned of a marked increase in threats against the LGBTQ+ community, while in October the FBI reported a sharp rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes last year compared to 2021.

“I look forward to a day in the future where hate-fueled violence is an unwelcome memory of the past and no longer incites fear amongst LGBTQI+ people, and all people who live in America,” Levine told the Washington Blade, adding, “We all deserve to live in communities safe from violence.”

The comments came after Levine met with New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) Executive Director Beverly Tillery.

The Community Safety Partnership initiative includes regular threat assessments for community organizations like AVP from DHS, as well as a focus on improving relations with police “in acknowledgment of the mistreatment that LGBTQI+ communities have often faced in interactions with law enforcement.”  

“We are now looking to the beginning of next year, kind of having a plan in place for what we think needs to be happening for next Pride season, really early, and also thinking about the election,” Tillery said of preparations discussed with Levine. “This is a really critical time where we need to make sure that we get as much information and resources and boots on the ground so they can be actively thinking about safety in a bunch of different ways.”

Speaking of the network of organizations that “holds our community together in terms of physical and mental health,” Tillery says Levine “prioritizes those spaces,” and explained she’s made a point of visiting LGBTQ+ spaces in person.

In July, AVP released a first-of-its-kind survey and report titled, “Under Attack: 2022 LGBTQ+ Safe Spaces National Needs Assessment.” It included feedback from community groups of all types and sizes from all 50 states on the hate incidents they’ve experienced and “the critical needs they have for future safety.”

Two weeks ago, the FBI released its 2022 Crime in the Nation Statistics based on data tracking over 11 million criminal offenses reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The report indicated a 13.8% increase in reported crimes based on sexual orientation and a 32.9% increase in crimes based on gender identity compared to 2021.   

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Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: Greg Owen

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