Out Leadership | Global Pulse on LGBTQ+ Equality | Issue #28
0.52% of Americans self-identify as trans, Omar Sharif Jr.’s new memoir, Ghana’s abhorrent bill, the latest on LGBTQ+ Board representation, and more.
Welcome to this week’s edition of the weekly equality news digest, the Global Pulse on Equality from Out Leadership (from a beautiful, albeit wet, Connecticut autumn) where I share important news, updates, and commentary about the LGBTQ+ equality movement globally. Questions, feedback, and comments are always welcome, and please share with your networks to continue helping us in moving the LGBTQ+ equality conversation forward.
The rise of students walkouts in the US over LGBTQ+ issues.
This week it is Missouri, two weeks ago it was Texas, Pink News highlights that students are increasingly staging walkouts against anti-LGBTQ+ policies or LGBTQ+ staff or students’ harassment. And it is effective…
Read the article here. “Defiant wave of LGBT+ student walkouts are hitting schools where it hurts.”
A new trans population estimate in the US.
I joined a Williams Institute’s briefing on “Transgender People and the Evolving Public Policy Landscape” yesterday. In the absence of national statistics on the size of the LGBTQ+ population, the Institute’s estimates remain key. The 2020 (0.52%) estimate for trans people is in line with the 2017 estimate (0.6% which can be found here). This represents about 1,3 million individuals which reiterate the need for the current policy debate on trans inclusion in the US. The webinar also highlighted that 376+ new anti-LGBTQ+ bills (medical care bans, athlete bans, and religious exemptions) were introduced in 2021 but only 9% of those were enacted thanks to civil society’s work.
Omar Sharif Jr. self-identifies as “pragmatic”.
On the release of his autobiography “A tale of two Omars”, Omar Sharif Jr. gave an interview to USA Today in which he indicated he did not consider himself an LGBTQ+ activist because of the movement’s “lack of pragmatism”. Once a GLAAD staffer, the grandson of Omar Sharif was criticized by the community for touting Saudi Arabia as a vibrant democracy (“Vision2030 is transforming that country into an open, welcoming, modern and progressive state among the family of nations”) after an all-expenses trip to the Kingdom a few months after Khashoggi was hacked to pieces in 2018. He had previously been criticized in 2015 for joining Brian Reisner’s PR Team. So yes, HE is a pragmatist.
California: giving LGBTQ+-owned businesses an edge in public contracting.
I had the privilege of testifying on LGBTQ+ supplier diversity in public contracting in front of the California legislature last week. Supplier diversity is one of the tools at our disposal to bridge the economic gap in the LGBTQ+ community. Economic disparities among LGBTQ+ people compared to their heterosexual/cisgender peers have been highlighted in several Williams Institute studies and are now highlighted in some US Census Bureau survey results. Read my testimony here.
This week is also the Out & Equal 2021 Workplace Summit.
The Summit features speakers such as Reggie Greer of the Biden Administration, Laverne Cox, and Beth Ford, the CEO of Land O’Lakes which just joined Blackrock’s board. Out Leadership’s Matt Fust will moderate a discussion with Board members Christie Smith, Denice Torres, and yours truly Thursday, October 7, 430-530pm EST on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Boardroom.
UK: an increasing number of college students identify as LGBTQ+ including bi or trans.
In this article focusing on LGBTQ+ inclusion at university, the BBC revealed that out of the 600,000 UK university applicants applying through Ucas in 2020, 7.2%, or 40,000, described themselves as LGBT. It also mentions that the number of students describing themselves as bisexual increased by 71% between 2016 and 2020.
France moves closer to banning conversion therapy.
Parliament’s lower house voted 115-0 on Tuesday night for a draft law banning conversation therapy proposed by members of President Emmanuel Macron’s party “En Marche”. It is now heading to the senate. A lot of the credit goes to our friend Benoit Berthe Siward, spokesperson of “rien à guérir” (nothing to cure), who courageously raise the issue in France despite strong pushback from the Church.
Ghana: the anti-gay bill unleashes passions.
While the western media is moving on, the debate over the abhorrent “anti-gay bill” rages in Ghana. Several prominent academics have courageously stated their opposition to the bill. On the other side coalitions such as the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) have urged the parliament to fast-track the bill. As the holidays are approaching, let me mention that the Salvation army appears to be a member of the CCG.
Tracking corporate contributions to the LGBTQ+ grassroots movement.
Out Leadership is partnering with the Global Philanthropy Project (GPP) to track the dollar amount of contributions to the global fight for LGBTQ+ equality. This is a clear missing piece in assessing the financing of our response to one of the biggest challenges of our time: so far the GPP has focused on foundations and states. Please contact Jane Barry-Moran or me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to be included in the forthcoming biennial Global Resources Report focusing on 2019/2020 contributions and need support in sending your information:
Corporate funders based or headquartered in the US are invited to report their grants data through Funders for LGBTQ Issues using this data collection site or by contacting email@example.com.
All other corporate funders (those based outside of the US) are invited to report grants through the Global Philanthropy Project using this data collection site or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
OutQUORUM: LGBTQ+ in the Boardroom
Not everybody loves Board Diversity mandates.
In September 2018, Governor Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill 826 (SB 826), requiring female representation on California-based companies' corporate boards, a first in the country. A complaint against the law is coming to trial this month (read Cooley’s brief). The plaintiff is described as “a Texas non-profit membership association” which filed a similar complaint against AB979 mandating other minorities’ representation including LGBTQ+ people.
Queering the National Association of Corporate Directors.
This week, Out Leadership is attending the NACD Summit: the most influential annual conference for corporate board members. We highlighted that several OutQuorum members are among the speakers. Romy Diaz will participate in a session titled “Belonging in the boardroom” tomorrow. Friday Myrna Soto will reflect on the Board’s role in “Framing the future”.
Only 30 public companies disclose the sexual orientation of Board members in the US.
While the Chair, CEO, and SEC Commissioner Elad Roisman all reiterated that Boardroom diversity is the priority at the Summit, we carried out a review of SEC filings last week. Our conclusion is that only 30 companies disclose their LGBTQ+ Board members – many in aggregate ways that are not useful.
The Alliance for Board Diversity’s 2020 Report on Board diversity excludes LGBTQ+ people.
In a rather tone-deaf move, the Alliance for Board Diversity just published the 6th edition of the “Missing Pieces Report: The Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards” in collaboration with Deloitte US, without one single mention of LGBTQ+ Board representation. Out Leadership published in 2021 the list of Fortune 500 Board seats occupied by openly LGBTQ+ members.
And the UK is still living in another decade.
The deadline to comment on the FCA Board Diversity proposal is October 20th. Proposal CP21/24 is placing LGBTQ+ Board representation on the back burner both in terms of disclosure and targets which is at odds with best practices including the new NASDAQ listing rule. Out Leadership will of course file comments and a draft letter is available here: please send your suggestions on how to change the course of CP21/24 most effectively.
In other news
A NASA telescope that irks some LGBTQ+ people.
NASA has said it will not rename its upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) despite concerns over its namesake former Undersecretary of State James E. Webb, involved in the 1950’s “lavender scare”, from over 1,000 astronomy enthusiasts. (see Newsweek article). In 1950, the U.S. State Department fired 91 employees because they were homosexual or suspected of being homosexual. In the next two years, nearly 200 more state employees were dismissed for the same reason.
Playboy was in the news after featuring an openly gay man on the October cover.
And it is a Youtube star I have of course never heard of. (The Advocate reports).
There is a sperm shortage apparently (read CNN).