Paid Sick Days: Moving Forward with LGBT Health

Last week was critical for the health of the LGBT community.  On
the tails of the study released by the Institutes of Medicine
(IOM), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a
series of policies and recommendations to the Obama
administration that will make great strides in improving the health
of LGBT individuals and families as we move further into the
twenty-first century.

Central to our families’ health is the ability to take time off
work to care for our loved ones when they are sick and care for
ourselves when we get ill or need to go to the doctor.  Family
Equality, in coalition with the National Partnership for Women and Families, the
Coalition for LGBT Health
, and dozens of other advocacy
organizations, is working to pass Paid Sick Days legislation on the
federal level and in several states around the country.

Forty-four million workers in the United States can’t take a
single paid sick day to go to the doctor or care for themselves or
a loved one.  For the 53% of families raising children in states
with no protection against being fired for being LGBT, the choice
is often between caring for a sick child or keeping a job.  For
LGBT families of color, the situation is dire: nearly 40% of
African-Americans and almost half of Latinos lack access to paid
sick days.   With LGBT families of color raising children at
twice the rate of white couples, this leaves LGBT families of color
with the impossible decision between work and health.

Transgender parents and families face similar dilemnas: it is legal
to fire someone for their gender identity in 39 states.  With 97%
of transgender people experiencing workplace discrimination, and
this discrimination magnified when a transgender employee needs to
access sick days for trans-related healthcare, it becomes obvious
that paid sick days are critical for trans individuals and

A paid sick days standard that applies to all workers, regardless
of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status,
would guarantee workers time to recover from illness and care for a
sick loved one, improving their overall health and the health of
their communities. Working parents could get their children the
care they need and be able to take time away from work if a health
emergency strikes.

For more information on Paid Sick Days and the Healthy Families
Act, visit  Download
FEC’s fact sheet on how paid sick days will help LGBT