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LGBT people ‘fundamental part of fabric of rural communities’

The most important goal was to work against the stereotype that LGBTQIA people only live in the cities or on the coast and to shine a light on the millions of LGBT people living in rural areas.

Photo by Bash Carlos from Unsplash.com

No, not all members of the LGBTQIA people are in the city, or even gravitate towards the big cities.

This is according to “Where We Call Home: LGBT People in Rural America , a study from the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) that – while focusing on members of the LGBTQIA community in the US – still deal with a long-held assumption that the rainbow can almost always just be found in big cities.

“The most important goal was to work against the stereotype that LGBTQIA people only live in the cities or on the coast and to shine a light on the millions of LGBT people living in rural (areas),” said Logan Casey, a policy researcher for the Movement Advancement Project. “They are a fundamental part of the fabric of rural communities across the country.”

In the US, between 2.9 million and 3.8 million LGBTQIA people live in rural areas, and this is up to 5% of the rural population and up to 20% of the LGBTQIA community’s population. For the most part, they chose that life for the same reasons other people do, including tight-knit communities with a shared sense of values that typically revolve around places like the church, schools or local businesses.

Same-sex parents also reportedly gravitate to life outside the cities. The report stated that “the highest rates of parenting by both same-sex couples and LGBTQIA individuals are in the most rural regions of the country.” It highlights to data from The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law that stated that 24 out of the 30 states in the US where same-sex couples are raising children are mostly rural in the Midwest, the South and the mountain regions of America.

Hard figures are hard to come by in the Philippines, where LGBTQIA-related data are still not (extensively) collected. But while Metro Manila, for instance, only has an overall population of 12.8 million (per the 2015 Census), the entire country already has over 110 million people. Many of them – including LGBTQIA Filipinos – live outside urban areas, including LGBTQIA people who are also members of indigenous tribes, those belonging to informal workforce, youth sector, people living with HIV, Muslim LGBTQIA people, et cetera.

The challenges faced by those who opt to live in rural areas (including limited access to health care, housing shortages and job loss) are made more difficult by the SOGIE of LGBTQIA dwellers. For instance, there are fewer protections for LGBTQIA people in rural areas.

MAP stressed that it’s incredibly important to improve life for all rural dwellers, such as by creating better access to health care, employment and the Internet, as well as by protecting the most vulnerable by passing “LGBTQIA-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.

“When you don’t have those non-discrimination protections, it disproportionately impacts LGBT people in rural areas,” Casey said. “LGBT people… shouldn’t have to choose between these basic rights and protections and where they call home.”

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