Spring 2015 Social Justice Grants Support Rights of Those Marginalized by Their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

March 30, 2015

Several organizations whose work has led to growing support at the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) for the rights of those marginalized by their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) are among those receiving funding in the spring 2015 round of Arcus Foundation grants.

Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC) International and the International Service for Human Rights were both instrumental in helping to bring about the HRC’s successful SOGI resolution in 2014, which garnered new support from Costa Rica, the Philippines, Vietnam, and South Korea. A grant will enable ARC, with staff in Canada and Geneva, to increase its regional trainings, create educational materials, and advance civil-society participation in several U.N. mechanisms, such as HRC and Commission on the Status of Women sessions. The group also plans to continue its work with other organizations to develop a collaborative vision for LGBTI rights at the U.N.

The International Service for Human Rights, based in Geneva, will also train and engage participants, through its Human Rights Defender Advocacy Program, to use international law and the HRC in particular to advocate for LGBT rights in their countries. It will also monitor and seek to defeat initiatives and laws promoting so-called “traditional values” at the national and international levels and use advocacy to strengthen LGBT protections through the HRC and U.N. treaty bodies.

Following on the momentum it gained in opposing the anti-LGBT hostilities that accelerated in Russia in 2013, ILGA-Europe plans to measure and influence public opinion, using polling and public-education campaigns, in up to four European countries and to ensure that strategic intervention is applied to opposition facing LGBT organizations in these countries.

Using storytelling and social media, the organization Familia es Familia, a public-education program, will work to engage Latino communities in the United States, with a particular focus on Southern states lacking in protections for the LGBT population. Drawing on the experiences of Latino elected officials and celebrities, the outreach campaign will provide a platform for sharing stories of bullying, discrimination, family unity, and marriage.

Also in the U.S. South, first-time funding to the Racial Justice Action Center will support the Solutions Not Punishment Campaign, which seeks to improve employment, housing, and health care while reducing police harassment and abuse of LGBTQ people of color, many of them transgender, in Atlanta. The organization, which is aiming to grow to at least 300 individual and organizational members, will especially focus on efforts to divert people from the criminal justice system to life-transforming, culturally competent services.

Another new grantee, Faith in Public Life, has engaged more than 350 evangelical Christian, African-American, and Catholic leaders to oppose legislation in two states that would legalize discrimination. Building on that success, the organization received funding to continue its work with evangelicals, seeking to shift religious leaders toward a publicly visible stance in opposition to discrimination. The Equality Pennsylvania Education Fund also will use funding to build relationships with and educate people of faith about the need for protections for LGBT people and to mobilize the transgender community and student activists to take leadership against discrimination.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights will use a grant to improve outcomes for LGBT youth in child-welfare and juvenile-justice systems, increase access to safe environments for transgender youth, and continue building meaningful collaborations with the reproductive justice movement and other strategically allied fields.

Also receiving funding in this round were two organizations promoting leadership in the LGBT movement: the Equality Federation Institute, which provides resources and communications support targeted to states lacking in sexual orientation and gender identity protections, and the Pipeline Project, which advances the leadership of LGBT people of color in executive positions at LGBT and ally organizations.

Among others, additional grants were made to Gender Proud, Lewis & Clark College, Lulac Institute, Inc., Muslims for Progressive Values, North Carolina Black Repertory Company, Inc., and Transgender Law Center.