Group visits Steamboat to discuss progress and challenges with LGBTQ rights
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization will make its first visit to Steamboat Springs on Sunday as part of a statewide tour.
This fall, One Colorado plans to visit 17 communities, from mountain towns to Front Range cities, and hold town hall-style meetings to discuss the progress in queer rights, the inequalities that remain and hear from people about the unique challenges they see or face.
The free event will take place at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, featuring a presentation and an informal discussion between the public and some of the organization’s members.
“It is an opportunity for One Colorado to get in the community and talk about what is left in closing the gap between lived equality and legal equality,” said Daniel Ramos, the organization’s executive director.
The tour follows the advocacy group’s publication of a 2018 report, Closing the Gap: The Turning Point for LGBTQ Health.
Based on surveys from more than 70,000 people of all sexual identities and orientations, it assessed people’s access to things like health care, personal health and well-being.
“We have seen a ton of success,” Ramos said of the report’s findings, pointing to legislation aimed at making the state more inclusive for LGBTQ individuals.
For example, in 2018 the state initiated a policy that allows residents who do not identify as male or female to choose the letter X to represent their gender on driver’s licenses and identification cards.
What: Free town hall on LGBTQ rights, organized by One Colorado
When: Noon Sunday, Sept. 8
Where: Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs. 1275 Crawford Ave.
“But we realize there is still more work to do,” Ramos said.
In 2011, One Colorado published a similar report on the state of LGBTQ health. Fewer people in the 2018 survey responded that they are comfortable being open about their sexual identities or orientations with their health care providers than in 2011, a decrease from 59% to 57%.
“We found that less than two-thirds are out to their health care provider,” Ramos said, meaning they have not disclosed their LGBTQ identity.
Despite advances in equality at the legislative level, Ramos said many queer-identifying Coloradoans still face discrimination.
“We have expanded hate crime protections, but we are seeing that harassment and violence on the streets is getting worse,” he said.
According to Ramos, that may be one reason why LGBTQ people in the survey reported feeling anxious or depressed at a rate three times higher than heterosexual respondents.
He acknowledged that laws can only do so much. Addressing discrimination in places like schools and the workplace will require changing the hearts and minds of Coloradoans at the local level, Ramos said.
A discussion portion of the town hall will invite community members, LBGTQ people and allies to discuss local challenges and successes. Ramos hopes this can lead to collaborations between One Colorado and grassroots equality efforts.
“We really want to hear from the local community what is happening. Who are some of the local champions for LGBTQ folks and how can we deepen our relationships in Steamboat?” he said.
The town hall will begin noon Sunday. Visit the organization’s website for more information.
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