MIAMI – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has selected South Florida to serve as “ground zero” for a new program to help first responders and other emergency workers engage more sensitively to the needs of LGBT disaster victims. A new brochure posted online by HRC—“A Cultural Competence Guide for Emergency Responders and Volunteers”—describes various first response scenarios in plain language. “(LGBT) people make up a diverse community,” it reads.
“Members of the LGBT community come from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, religious traditions, and geographic regions. Identification and participation with the LGBT community can also change across the lifespan.”
The guide was inspired by the true life, harrowing experiences of LGBT Americans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005. In one glaring, but by no means unique, instance, a transgender woman was jailed for criminal trespassing charges after using a women’s restroom in a Texas shelter.
The pamphlet from HRC, the nation’s largest LGBT rights organization, notes that “some people may not outwardly identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, but may [nevertheless] be in a same-sex relationship.”
The brochure addresses topics that include LGBT families, same-gender couples, and single LGBT people raising children by themselves. It also describes “chosen families” as “a group of close friends who fill the traditional role of the nuclear and extended family. These are especially common for older LGBT individuals who came of age at a time when rejection.