Prevention in the LGBTQIA Community

Aug 21st, 1970

By: Jacob Burdette, Former Intern The rates of sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence are higher amongst LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) individuals than those of their heterosexual counterparts. Despite this astonishing fact, there appears to be very few LGBTQIA specific prevention programs across the United States. With such disheartening disparity in the rates of victimization and such a startling lack of prevention programs, one is forced to wonder whether and why members of the Alphabet Community are ignored or considered only secondarily in national discourse and prevention efforts. To fully understand the disparity of victimization, one only needs to look to national surveys produced by research centers and government entities. In fact, the Center for Disease Control’s recent report, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, shows that 44% of lesbian women and 61% of bisexual women are victims of rape, physical violence, and or stalking in their lifetimes, while 35% of heterosexual women experience victimization. The disparity for men is not as great, with 26% of gay men, 37% of bisexual men, and 29% of heterosexual men experiencing these in their lifetimes. The lack of difference in the latter, however, may be due to the inclusion of physical violence in the reporting, and not due to a differential in perpetration of sexual violence. Aside from the difference in victimization, there is also a higher prevalence in suicide among the LGBTQ community. Thankfully, this fact is not as widely ignored, but it poses significant problems for prevention efforts, in that it causes advocates and allies to form programs focused on preventing suicide, but draws their attention away from the underlying causes. Despite my disheartening claims about the absence of prevention programs, there are a few resources available to LGBTQIA advocates and allies. The recent re-authorization of VAWA includes sexual orientation among its protections, and the Campus SAVE Act, an extension of the Clery Act in conjunction with Title IX, has done the same. With the addition of these protections, and with the expansion of definitions and methods of inquiring about rape and sexual assault in national surveys, we can expect to see additional growth with regard to LGBTQIA prevention programs across the nation. At present, however, Southern Arizona provides us with an excellent example of a culturally appropriate, LGBT specific prevention program in their Wingspan Anti-Violence Project.

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