HRC Nebraska Supports Nondiscrimination in State Mental Health Rule, Will Testify before Board

by Ianthe Metzger

Nebraska Board of Mental Health will decide whether to include sexual orientation and gender identity in its nondiscrimination clause.

WASHINGTON—Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, announced it has submitted a letter, is mobilizing its members and sending an official representative to testifyThursday before the Nebraska Board of Mental Health. Board members will decide whether to include sexual orientation and gender identity in NE Title 172 Chapter 94proposed rules for Mental Health Practice Licensure.

“No one should fear seeking mental health care due to discrimination,” said HRC Senior Legislative Counsel Alison Gill. “Mental health professionals should provide care that is ethical, affirming, and nondiscriminatory for LGBT people.”

Gill adds the Department and Board of Mental Health can help ensure that everyone, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, have safe and ethical access to mental health care by including both sexual orientation and gender identity in the list of categories protected from discrimination.

“Access to appropriate mental health care is also very important for LGBT youth, who face up to four times heightened risk for suicide,” said Gill. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made clear that states have a duty to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the provision of insurance and health care.”

Respected sources, such as The Institute of MedicineHealthy People 2020, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, indicate that LGBT individuals and their families are disproportionately likely to live in poverty, to be uninsured, and to face substantial barriers to quality health care. Mental health is an especially important issue for LGBT populations, who as a result of discrimination, face a heightened risk of mental health concerns --such as major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, and suicide-- compared to non-LGBT populations.

Earlier this year, HRC commissioned a survey of LGBT Nebraskans. The assessment shows LGBT people are contributing members of their communities, but face daunting amounts of discrimination. Key findings from the survey show 57 percent of respondents have called the state home for more than 20 years, more than half are in committed relationships, and 59 percent volunteer in their respective communities.

However, the survey also found 41 percent have experienced harassment at work, more than one in five have experienced employment discrimination and one-third of LGBT respondents in rural areas have experienced harassment in school on a weekly basis. 

HRC Nebraska will work across the state to change hearts and minds, advance enduring legal protections and build more inclusive institutions.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. HRC Nebraska works to expand LGBT equality throughout the state and is generously supported by the HRC Foundation.

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