Pride month is celebrated annually throughout the Americas and worldwide by the LGBTQ+ community, their families, and supporters. It is a significant time of honesty, respect, healing, understanding, and tolerance, and a time to honor pioneers in the LGBTQ+ movement who sacrificed and fought for equality, and those who continue to advocate for inclusion, especially among individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD).
Current state legislation, education, and social media are helping to lift barriers. However, those within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community still often face prejudice, misunderstanding, and intolerance. For those members who also live with I/DD, these challenges can seem insurmountable without the steady support of their peers, families, and support workers.
Continuing Challenges to Inclusion
Inclusion is happening gradually, although great strides have been made in the past decade. For those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, there is still considerable ground to cover to safeguard their protection and rights, while creating a sense of acceptance and belonging.
Funded Programming Supports Diversity
Within the LGBTQ+ family, social equity barriers are more pervasive for people of color with I/DD. Various projects and programs are available and funded through agencies like the Administration for Independent Living (ACL) and National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to help those with I/DD overcome stigmas about diversity while tackling emotional roadblocks.
Programs also focus on local community inclusion and work with individuals with specific conditions such as autism to understand more about their sexuality and sexual health. Many programs help to identify barriers to community inclusion and overcome misconceptions.
Anniversary of the Rainbow Flag
This year marks the fifty-third anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots, which kick-started June as Pride Month. Yet, people with disabilities are still impacted by biases that continue to permeate even LGBTQ+ culture, with some cases directly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a result, there are still those with I/DD struggling with inclusion within their community.
Reason To Celebrate
Despite lingering issues surrounding the rights and freedoms of those in LGBTQ+ and I/DD communities, there is still a solid reason to celebrate and feel pride. With more programs now being offered to help people gain a stronger foothold within their community and achieve a greater sense of self-identity, there is more support available than ever.
With approximately five million people with I/DD currently part of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s more important than ever to ensure the necessary resources to help them to shine. Large and visible entities like GLAAD are showcasing individuals with I/DD and providing unconditional support and a voice to people within the LGBTQ+ I/DD community.
Support begins at home and within the immediate community. Independent Living Association (ILA) in New York offers high quality programs and inclusive living facilities that foster opportunities for those with I/DD to reach their fullest potential. ILA stands united with the entire LGBTQ+ community, and celebrates the spirit of Pride this month and always.