U.S. to Invest $4 Mil to Reduce Barriers Impeding LGBTQI+ Youth

The Biden administration plans to invest $4 million in a project aimed at reducing barriers that impede access to education and decent work for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex (LGBTQI+) youth in Latin America and the Caribbean. (For those wondering the + holds space for the expanding list of diverse gender and sexual identities). The American taxpayer dollars will fund a technical assistance venture that will improve implementation of laws, policies, and national plans to help the young LGBTQI+ population in the region, according to a preliminary grant announcement posted by the government.

The money will flow through the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), a Department of Labor (DOL) division that spends millions of dollars annually to strengthen global labor standards, enforce labor commitments among trading partners and promote racial and gender equity. The ILAB also helps combat international child labor, forced labor and human trafficking. Among its recent projects is a $3 million program to protect and advocate for migrant workers, particularly Mexican nationals participating in U.S. Temporary Foreign Worker programs, and a $4.5 million venture to improve compliance with international labor standards in Ecuador’s cut flower and banana sectors. That initiative aims to empower worker organizations, producers, and indigenous groups to address labor violations as well as increase government capacity in the south American nation of about 18 million to enforce labor laws.

The new multi-million-dollar LGBTQI+ Latin American/Caribbean allocation is still missing details of the specific activities it will fund since it was just announced by the administration. In some cases, the government makes general grant information public with few specifics to give perspective grant recipients—typically leftist nonprofits in cases like this—a heads up and more details follow in subsequent announcements. The initial document states that the desired outcomes include improved knowledge among key labor stakeholders about the barriers to education and access to decent work among LGBTQI+ youth, increased coordination among key labor stakeholders to boost access to decent work opportunities and increased capacity of LGBTQI+ key labor stakeholders to provide youth with safe and affirming environments. Judicial Watch will follow the grant process and report on the specific initiatives once they are established.

The allocation for this project appears to be inspired by the results of a probe sanctioned by the DOL to study the fundamental labor rights, working conditions, and access to employment for LGBTQI+ individuals in Latin America. The federal agency contracted a Maryland-based consulting firm called Manhattan Strategy Group, which describes itself as an innovative management and social sciences consulting firm dedicated to fostering positive social change, to conduct the research.

The group published its findings recently in a 17-page report that states LGBTQI+ individuals in Latin America experience various types of discrimination, including religious discrimination, workplace discrimination, school victimization, sexual identity expression, disadvantages in the presence of authorities, institutional exclusion, and denial of rights. Specific to education, students identifying as LGBTQI+ have negative experiences within school, including experiencing a lack of school safety via harassment and assault, anti-LGBTQI+ remarks, and a lack of supportive school staff, according to the report. The document determines that, although research on the employment of LGBTQI+ individuals in Latin America is limited, there is a positive relationship between legal protections and inclusive policies and positive economic outcomes for LGBTQI+ individuals.

The DOL is advised by the social sciences consulting firm to launch interventions, including the development of LGBTQI+-inclusive curricula and federal and employer policies, because they are promising and may indicate opportunities for capacity building while more research is conducted. The Biden administration quickly heeded the call, announcing the multi-million-dollar project shortly after the report’s publication. Seems like the administration is dedicated to the LGBTQI+ cause in Latin America. Not that long ago, it funded 12 drag theater performances in Ecuador to promote tolerance, diversity and inclusion.

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