June is Pride Month, a time for further education, understanding and acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual) community. What initially began as a one-day celebration has progressed into a 30-day series of events and celebrations to honor pivotal moments in LGBTQIA+ history and hold memorials honoring those lost to HIV/AIDS or hate crimes. Pride Month allows us to reflect on how far we have come in the United States, and yet still how far we must go in terms of complete equality, acceptance and rights for those in the LGBTQIA+ community who face bias and discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBTQIA+ movement history
Established in 1924, the Society for Human Rights was the first documented gay-rights organization in the United States. It was short-lived when the group was forced to disband by police only a year later. More than 30 years later, in 1955, The Daughters of Bilitis was formed, becoming the first U.S. lesbian-rights organization. During the last century, the LGBTQIA+ community has had to fight time and again for basic human rights, forming gay liberation and activist alliances that set the stage for freedoms once thought unattainable.
A turning point for LGBTQIA+ rights came on June 28, 1969, when tensions erupted between the gay, lesbian and transgender community in New York City’s Greenwich Village and the New York Police Department. Another police raid on the area’s Stonewall Inn, a bar serving as a haven for the city’s LGBT society, sparked a several-day riot that became unmanageable by authorities. As police used physical force against the bar’s patrons, the group fought back with fierce conviction. During the next several days, police raids continued, and more supporters showed up on behalf of the LGBTQIA+ community. Police became more forceful with members of the demonstration and used tear gas on the crowd, attempting to restore order.
The “Stonewall Uprising” marked a new era of resistance and paved the way for future change in legislation that for decades deemed same-sex relationships unconstitutional. The event is touted as transforming “the gay liberation movement and the 20th-century fight for LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States.”
June 28, 1970: The formation of Gay Pride Week
On the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots, gay activists in New York City orchestrated the first Gay Pride parade, called Christopher Street Liberation March. The parade, which symbolized the start of Gay Pride Week, spanned 15 city blocks and included thousands of participants. The same year, gay activists in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago followed New York City’s lead, organizing gay pride celebrations.
Inspired by the wave of U.S. activism, other countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and New Zealand, forged gay-rights movements, forever changing the LGBTQIA+ landscape globally.
It wasn’t until a short 18 years ago, on May 17, 2004, that the first same-sex union was granted to a couple in Massachusetts. Between 2004 and 2015, 37 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., legalized same-sex marriage, giving couples the same benefits as heterosexual partners, such as:
- Federal and state tax benefits.
- Social Security benefits.
- Health benefits.
- Inheritance benefits.
- Hospital visitation as an immediate family member.
- The right to make medical decisions for one’s spouse.
The LGBTQIA+ community reached another substantial milestone on June 26, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “same-sex marriage cannot be banned in the United States and that all same-sex marriages must be recognized nationwide.” By one vote during the Obergefell v. Hodges case, the federal decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states prevailed.
In 2020, another historic ruling was made by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County, extending protection under federal antidiscrimination laws to LGBTQIA+ employees in all 50 states under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Present-day LGBTQIA+ Pride Month
What began as a week-long gay-rights celebration has morphed into a month-long observance that started in 1999 when former U.S. President Bill Clinton declared June as Gay & Lesbian Pride Month. In 2009, former President Barack Obama expanded the ceremonious observance to include bisexual and transgender community members, renaming it LGBT Pride Month. Last year, President Joe Biden proclaimed June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month for greater inclusion.
LGBTQIA+ Pride Month events, including parades, picnics, parties, worship, symposia and concerts, attract millions of participants worldwide. Memorial services are also held to honor and pay homage to those whose lives were lost to hate crimes. It’s a reminder that all fellow humans should be treated with kindness, compassion, equality and respect. It is also a time to promote allyship where individuals can use their privilege to advocate for the rights of marginalized people or groups.
Most importantly, LGBTQIA+ Pride Month reaffirms that community members have the right to be themselves in every social setting and take pride in who they are as contributing members of society.
Promoting diversity, equity and inclusion
Regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, all individuals deserve to live life without discrimination, hatred or, most importantly, violence. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for many in the LGBTQIA+ community who face continual barriers. These barriers are compounded by additional dimensions of diversity, such as race/ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic status, etc.
Companies and their employees play a crucial role in this movement. Everyone has a responsibility to build a culture of acceptance and belonging where inclusive practices and equitable treatment are available for everyone. Building a genuinely and authentically inclusive culture doesn’t just occur during Pride Month; it happens all year long and requires continual action and attention.
Pediatrix® Medical Group has a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and steadfastly protects the rights of its workforce, partners, clients, vendors and patients. The company’s human rights and diversity, equity and inclusion policies foster a safe environment where all employees can proudly come to work every day as their authentic selves.
The role of health care organizations to support the LGBTQIA+ community
Recent research from Gallup shows that “the percentage of U.S. adults who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual has increased to a new high of 7.1%, which is double the percentage from 2012, when Gallup first measured it.” The research also shows that roughly 21% of Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) who have reached adulthood identify as LGBTQIA+. With demographics shifting and the proportion of individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ starting to grow at a faster pace, it’s imperative that as a leading health care provider of women’s and children’s services, we not only promote an inclusive environment for our employees but also promote this environment for the patients entrusted to our care.
Health disparities and access to care for the LGBTQIA+ community remain challenges that need to be addressed and rectified. Pediatrix is continually educating, supporting and training team members and supporting our patient and health care partner communities as we collectively tackle these systemic barriers together.