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Meet the Plaintiffs Challenging Trump's Ban on Speech about Systemic Racism, Sexism, and Implicit Bias

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In the case The Diversity Center v. Trump

On November 3, 2020, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s recent executive order that prohibits federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings or engaging in grant-funded work that explicitly acknowledges and confronts the existence of structural racism and sexism in our society. The order describes trainings that cover topics such as implicit bias or critical race theory as divisive and un-American, and directs agencies to suspend or deny funding to contractors and grantees whose trainings or grant-funded activities cover these topics.

Click here to learn more about the case.

Meet the plaintiffs in the case below.


AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC)

AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) works to mobilize communities to create equity and justice for people living with and vulnerable to HIV or other chronic conditions. AFC’s work focuses on ensuring equitable access to healthcare for people living with or vulnerable to HIV. This work includes the Getting to Zero Illinois initiative, which is working to end the HIV epidemic in the state by 2030. Critical funding for AFC’s programs including federal grants through the Ryan White and the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) programs.

“AFC is committed to centering the most marginalized in our community – which necessarily centers dismantling the systemic anti-Black racism that has led to the significant, negative health outcomes for Black communities in Illinois and across the nation,” said Aisha N. Davis, Director of Policy, AFC. “As an organization that has been doing this work for 35 years, AFC has seen the ebb and flow of policies that permit bigotry to the detriment of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities. This recent executive order is another move to prevent the progress necessary to not only end the HIV epidemic, but address the disproportionate harm that communities of color have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that systemic racism has led to a public health crisis for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities, and our commitment to care means that we must denounce and oppose this executive order.”


Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is a comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of LGBTQ people of the Greater Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania. It receives almost one-third of its funding – including pass-through funding – from such federal agencies as the CDC, National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Council on the Arts. The Center’s Training Institute provides training to agencies throughout Pennsylvania to ensure LGBT inclusion as well as to address health care disparities and barriers to care. Health disparities cannot be addressed without a discussion and an understanding of the systemic issues around bias that lead to such disparities, including disparities based on race, sex, and LGBT status stemming from implicit bias and systemic racism, sex stereotyping, and related anti-LGBT discrimination.

"The Trump Administration's vague and nonsensical executive order causes direct harm to organizations like Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center that frequently provide training to government contractors,” said Adrian Shanker, executive director, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. “In the midst of a global pandemic, we need to continue to train healthcare professionals, but the chilling effects of this Executive Order call our ability to do so into question. That's why Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center is standing up to the Trump administration and seeking injunctive relief from this harmful executive order."


B. Brown Consulting

B. Brown Consulting, a Michigan-based consulting business, owned by former public defender and LGBT advocate Bernadette, E. Brown, provides consulting, training and technical assistance to government agencies, institutions, corporations and community-based organizations on the development and implementation of policies, procedures and best practices that improve conditions of confinement with the goal of ending the cycles of incarceration.

"Improving conditions inside correctional facilities is essential to the safety and security of the people who are detained in these facilities, as well as corrections officers and other institutional staff," said Bernadette Brown, President, B. Brown Consulting. "Critical to the effectiveness of these efforts is a frank discussion of the underlying conditions, including systemic racism and implicit bias, that contributes to the discrimination against, and mistreatment of, people of color, and LGBTQ and gender nonconforming people inside these facilities, including extremely high sexual victimization rates for transgender people. This executive order puts that essential work at risk."


CrescentCare

CrescentCare provides vital services to those who come from traditionally medically underserved communities, including the service industry, the LGBTQ community, the uninsured and underinsured, immigrants, and people of color. As a provider embedded in the Deep South, it is essential that our staff understands the history and legacy of slavery, implicit bias, and the ongoing impacts of systemic racism to effectively work together, and to provide culturally competent care to our diverse population. Further, many of CrescentCare’s grant-funded programs necessitate an acknowledgement of and targeted outreach to intersectional minority populations including substance use disorder treatment for racial/ethnic minority populations at high risk for HIV/AIDS, and behavioral health models to improve HIV health outcomes for Black men and transgender women who have sex with men. Refusal to acknowledge this intersectionality prevents us from supporting our staff and effectively working to improve health outcomes in our community.

“The President’s executive order banning diversity training is nothing more than a misguided distraction seeking to sow division in our nation,” said Noel Twilbeck, Chief Executive Officer at CrescentCare. “As a Federally Qualified Health Center, we are a provider of crucial services for the most vulnerable in our community. Our patients and staff reflect the diversity of the city of New Orleans, many of whom live at the intersection of being Black, Brown, LGBTQ, an immigrant, or living with HIV. As such, training on systemic racism, sexism, and implicit bias are essential in addressing the disparities that exist within our organization, communities, and health care systems.”


The Diversity Center

The Diversity Center is an LGBTQ+ community center located in Santa Cruz, CA, on California’s Central Coast. Founded in 1989, The Center merged with Triangle Speakers 12 years ago, and is now the chief agency in the county promoting social justice, enhancing the health and well-being, and building a sense of community for LGBTQ+ people. The Diversity Center conducts diversity trainings with local hotels and restaurants and other tourism-related business, and also operates several federal grant programs.

“We at The Diversity Center offer diversity training specifically to help the people in area businesses and organizations understand the spectrum of gender and sexuality, key terminology, and inclusive language, increase awareness of specific issues, myths, and barriers for LGBTQ+ people, and learn practical actions to embrace and celebrate diversity,” said Sharon Esther Papo, Executive Director, The Diversity Center. “These invaluable trainings are put at great risk by this executive order.”


Los Angeles LGBT Center

Los Angeles LGBT Center has nearly 800 employees and provides services to more LGBT people than any other organization in the world, with about 50,000 client visits per year. Approximately 80% of the Center’s funding originates from numerous federal sources. A Federally Qualified Health Center, the Center receives federal funding for research programs and participates in multiple federally-funded studies. As part of its general workplace practices and onboarding procedures, the Center trains its staff on implicit bias, cultural competency, historical barriers to health services access, and more. Lack of such training would exacerbate health care disparities that people of color face in the broader health care environment—a directly contradictory outcome to its grants’ mandates. Without addressing these topics, the Center cannot successfully fulfill the obligations of its federal funding.

“The reality is you cannot segregate LGBTQ equality from racial justice. Core to our mission is training other providers—from foster youth organizations and medical professionals to those who work to end homelessness—to ensure that, whichever door our community uses to access essential services, those services are provided in an LGBTQ culturally responsive manner. You simply cannot do this work without addressing institutionalized racism which LGBTQ, Black, and Indigenous People of Color have experienced historically and continue to face every day,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings. “We will not stand by idly as the Trump Administration attempts to violate our freedom of speech and sugarcoat our nation’s history while risking harm to members of our community. We look forward to our day in court.”


SAGE

Since its inception, SAGE has been dedicated to educating people, policymakers, organizations, and aging providers about the issues that LGBT elders face. In 2016, SAGE launched the SAGECare cultural competency training and credentialing program. SAGECare offers LGBT cultural competency training to skilled nursing facilities, health care organizations, assisted living communities, hospice and palliative care, long-term care communities, home health providers, and anyone providing services to older adults. SAGECare also provides technical assistance and trainings on intersectionality and the interplay among gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and socioeconomic status.

“For the past decade, SAGE has provided training and technical assistance to increase the cultural competence of elder care providers at the intersections of sexual orientation, gender, and race,” said Michael Adams, SAGE CEO said. “The Trump administration’s late-breaking attack on this training – some of which has been funded by the very same federal government that the President leads – is profoundly damaging to long-established efforts to counteract discrimination in essential services. We are determined to challenge and defeat this deeply misguided assault from the White House.”