Tuesday, May 14, 2013

White House LGBT Update: May 14, 2013

White House LGBT Update: May 14, 2013
The White House Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Good afternoon,

In this White House LGBT Update, you will learn more about the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to advance equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Please feel free to share this news with your colleagues and networks, and please encourage them to sign up for updates.

Gautam Raghavan
Office of Public Engagement
The White House

Department of Education Announces Changes to FAFSA Form

Recently, as part of the Obama Administration's efforts to treat all families fairly and equally, the U.S. Department of Education announced that beginning with the 2014-2015 federal student aid form, the Department will – for the first time – collect income and other information  from a dependent student's legal parents regardless of the parents' marital status or gender, if those parents live together.  The 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, will use terms like "Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)" and "Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)" instead of gender-specific terms like "mother" and "father." 

"All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student's whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families."

Read more about this development

Secretary Arne Duncan Observes National Day of Silence

Last month, on National Day of Silence, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called on Americans to help address and prevent bullying of LGBT students:

I want to encourage all of us NOT to be silent on an important issue: the need to address and eliminate bullying and harassment in our schools.

No student should ever feel unsafe in school. If students don't feel safe, they can't learn. And if left unaddressed, bullying and harassment can rapidly escalate into even more serious abuse.

I want to remind students, parents, and administrators of the power of supportive clubs, like the Gay Straight Alliances or GSAs, to foster safe school environments. The Department of Education has provided guidance to schools on their obligations under federal laws to provide equal access to extracurricular clubs, including GSAs, as well to address bullying and harassment and gender-based violence.

 Let's work together to end bullying and harassment in schools.

To learn more, please visit StopBullying.gov and find additional resources from the Department of Education below–including school obligations under federal law

On the Road in Boyle Heights, CA: Working Toward a Healthy LGBTQ Community

(Photo courtesy of Latino Equality Alliance)

Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Boyle Heights, California – a neighborhood in East Los Angeles – for an LGBTQ Forum hosted by the Latino Equality Alliance in collaboration with The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities initiative. The event brought together service providers, families, advocates, and individuals from the nearby communities for a resource fair, plenaries, and workshop sessions.

Some of the key issues that were raised throughout the day included family acceptance, access to affordable health care and housing, and increased opportunities for local service providers. In addition, many of the participants I met were particularly interested in President Obama's call for commonsense immigration reform that will keep our families together and allow DREAMers a pathway to citizenship.It was truly inspiring to see such a coalition of diverse local organizations unite in common purpose at the Boyle Heights LGBTQ Forum. Events such as these are a shining example of how communities across America can come together to seek solutions to the unique issues facing our youth and families.

Read more about my trip to Boyle Heights, CA

Tweet of the Week 

In Case You Missed It 

First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, and Prince Harry of Wales help military children create Mothers Day cards and other crafts in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 9, 2013. The children presented the gifts to their moms during the Joining Forces Military Mother's Day Tea in the East Room. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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