HRC Youth Ambassador Jazz Jennings Explains How the Tobacco Industry Targets the LGBTQ Community

Transgender rights activist and HRC Foundation Youth Ambassador Jazz Jennings appears in a new video to share a disturbing example of how the tobacco industry takes aim at the LGBTQ community.

“A tobacco company once planned to increase cigarette sales by targeting the gay community. They even called their plan Project SCUM,” says 16-year-old Jennings in the video for truth®, a youth tobacco prevention campaign.

For years the tobacco industry has made efforts to appeal to LGBTQ consumers through strategies such as targeted advertisements in LGBTQ press, event sponsorships, cigarette giveaways and free tobacco industry merchandise. They have also included LGBTQ pride themes in their advertisements and sponsored pride events to promote their products.

While the youth smoking rate is at a historic low of six percent, the LGBTQ community uses tobacco at much higher rates.

HRC’s “Preventing Substance Abuse among LGBTQ Teens” issue brief found that LGBTQ youth experiment with alcohol and other drugs occurs at twice the rate of their non-LGBTQ counterparts. HRC’s “Health Disparities among Bisexual People” issue brief also noted that bisexual adults have elevated rates of smoking and alcohol use compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

Additionally, research found that LGBTQ adults smoke at rates up to two and a half times higher than straight adults. LGB high schoolers are more than twice as likely to have smoked a cigarette before the age of 13, and about one in three transgender young adults smokes.

“We hear that smoking rates are lower, but what we don’t hear is that they are not lower across all these different communities,” said Director of HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth and Families Program Ellen Kahn at Truth Initiative’s 2017 Warner Series discussion. “The LGBTQ community needs to be educated about how they have been targeted.”

Jennings’ activism began at age six when she appeared on 20/20 with Barbara Walters. Now 16, she is stars in TLC’s GLAAD Award-winning docu-series, “I am Jazz” and is one of America’s most well-known transgender youth. Jazz is the co-author of the book, I am Jazz, and released her memoir, Being Jazz, in 2016.

Click here to learn more about how the tobacco industry profiles the LGBTQ community.

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Welcoming Schools Completes National Facilitator Certification Training

Post submitted by Cheryl Greene, Welcoming Schools Deputy Director

As Deputy Director of Welcoming Schools, I am proud to announce the completion of our program’s second National Facilitator Certification Training. Last week, we welcomed 22 participants from 16 states (plus Mexico and Washington, D.C.) to HRC headquarters for four days of intensive training in the Welcoming Schools approach.

Supporting me in my role as Facilitator Certification Program Manager were Program Director Johanna Eager and our team of knowledgeable, experienced Expert Trainers: Tarah Fleming, Michele Hatchell, and Toni Smith. This year, we were thrilled to have Nationally Certified Facilitator and Boston Public Schools Senior Equity Manager Steven Chen with us. Chen was part of our first ever cohort and joined us to train the newest group in laws and policies that support LGBTQ students.

I was impressed by our participants’ creativity, talent, knowledge base, and passion. I can say with confidence that all of our newly-minted Facilitators are outstanding, committed advocates who will represent our program well and bring much-needed training to elementary schools across the country.

Above all, we are excited to see our program grow. By adding 22 Facilitators to our nationwide network, we greatly increased our capacity to serve schools and youth-serving organizations around the country, getting professional development, information, and resources into the hands of educators who so desperately need it.

In the days following the training, our participants have remarked on how inspired they were by the experience. They aren’t the only ones who were impacted. I know I speak for the entire Welcoming Schools team when I say that these 22 individuals have energized and inspired us. We can’t wait to watch the amazing work they will do in support of schoolchildren everywhere.  

HRC’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools in embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools, and supporting transgender and non-binary students.

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HRC: New Senate Proposal Jeopardizes Health Coverage for Millions of Americans

HRC responded to the latest draft of the Senate’s so-called “health care” bill. While the Congressional Budget Office has yet to score this version of the legislation, a previous projection estimated the legislation will result in 22 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026 — with 15 million losing their insurance by the end of next year.

“Today, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell released a new draft that would still rip health care from millions of people, with a particularly devastating impact on low-income senior citizens, women, children, LGBTQ people, and people living with HIV,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Any health care proposal should improve the lives of individuals — not put them at risk. This version of the bill is just as bad as the previous ones. With people’s lives on the line, we urge the Senate to stop this madness and reject this harmful piece of legislation.”

Like the prior versions, the most recent bill undermines core provisions of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result of the ACA, thousands of low-income people living with HIV have been able to obtain health insurance through the Medicaid expansion. This critical coverage ensures that people living with HIV have access to lifesaving treatments. The bill’s drastic changes to Medicaid will likely strip these people, and other vulnerable populations, of essential healthcare coverage.

Beyond repealing these key provisions of the ACA, the bill would also cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which could jeopardize the ability of clinics to deliver preventive health services, including HIV testing and transition-related care. The ACA’s public health and prevention fund, established to expand investments in the nation’s public health infrastructure, would also be repealed. Health centers, like those operated by Planned Parenthood, often offer the only culturally competent healthcare available, especially in rural and isolated areas.

In considering the ACA in 2009 and 2010, the House held 79 hearings over the course of a year, heard from 181 witnesses and accepted 121 amendments. The current House leadership has moved this unacceptable repeal and replacement legislation through the House in a matter of weeks. The Senate adopted the ACA only after approximately 100 hearings, roundtables, walkthroughs and other meetings, and after 25 consecutive days in continuous session debating the bill.

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