Together we can make Atlanta a symbol of hope, a symbol of inclusion, and a symbol of progress for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Peter on LGBTQIA+ Issues
Thanks to LGBTQIA+ leaders and social activists in Atlanta, our city has come a long way in the fight for equality. But there remains far more to be done. If we truly wish to deserve the moniker: a city Too Busy to Hate, we must keep pushing.
When I speak to these issues, it is more than just empty political talk. I’ve walked the walk when it comes to acting in defense of our LGBTQIA+ community. In my time as COO, one of the first things I did was to summarily disband the police department’s “Red Dog Unit.” The group—which perpetrated the infamous Eagle Raid in Midtown—had to go. When given the chance, I did what was right and shut it down.
Together we can make Atlanta a symbol of hope, a symbol of inclusion, and a symbol of progress for the LGBTQIA+ community. Among other actions, I believe we must:
- Fight LGBTQIA+ homelessness through supportive housing solutions such as host homes. LGBTQIA+ individuals make up about 7% of our nation’s youth population, yet constitute approximately 40% of the youth homeless population. As of July, Atlanta had 217 homeless LGBTQIA+ youth. Many of them come out to their families, only to be displaced from their homes. Through transitional housing, LGBTQIA+ youth have time to stabilize and opt into re-entry programs where needed.
- Work with faith-based and neighborhood leaders to de-stigmatize LGBTQIA+ issues. It’s past time that we opened up a more expansive dialogue with a focus on education. So many negative outcomes concerning the LGBTQIA+ community result from a lack of understanding or compassion. Through iterative conversations we can deal with challenges on the front end rather than reactively.
- Offer APD resources to Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to ensure best practices are being used to reduce bullying and suicide rates among LGBTQIA+ students. APS has its own police force, but could maximize its impact and efficiency with the additional support and resources APD possesses. We need schools that provide everystudent the environment they needed to succeed and become our next generation of leaders. We can partner to help APS get there.
- Lobby City Council for legislation mandating transgender workplace transition guidelines for all city employees. We have seen a worrisome trend where societal contributions made by transgender individuals in the workforce are disregarded. For Atlanta to live up to its potential—both culturally and economically—we must have workplaces that fully address the needs of all employees. I will ensure that our city does everything it can to create a work environment that fully caters to the needs of its transgender employees and leads by example.
- Alter the application form for city HIV/AIDS relief so that gender is not treated as binary. Not all discrimination is overt and purposeful. Much of society has been built without an understanding or appreciation of LGBTQIA+ concerns. I intend to help construct a city that addresses the nuances of LGBTQIA+ issues and understands the harm of the quiet discrimination. This means that we need to create a culture of understanding that permeates throughout everything we do as a city.
- Lobby the state to review and alter 30-year old legislation around the criminalization of HIV transmission. The practice of using hearsay as justification for a felony conviction is of particular concern. And should City Council or the state every pursue laws criminalizing unknowing transmission of HIV, I will do everything I can as mayor to take up the fight against that infringement on civil rights.
- Support HIV/AIDS prevention and relied by providing health resources in concert with the region, state, Grady, and CDC among others. We need to give resources to those providing free screenings (including mobile testing units). We must also support education about PrEP as well as access to it while ensuring that Atlantans understand the risks. We have an ongoing epidemic in Atlanta, and PrEP should be part of the solution.
- Work with the Atlanta Police Department to adopt more robust transgender interaction as well as sensitivity training policies. This, in addition to its ongoing training reform efforts around LGBTQIA+ diversity and hate crimes.