On Thursday, July 21, 2016, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) will host the California LGBT Rural Summit at Visalia’s Convention Center. The latest in a series of such summits, “The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights, in collaboration with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and The True Colors Fund, will engage with LGBT rural communities across the country to host the LGBT Rural Summit Series. Each series will offer a unique opportunity for USDA and other federal agencies to share information relating to policies, programs, and services that exist to protect, promote and strengthen LGBT rural communities. Issues ranging from rural housing loans, community facility grants and bullying will be discussed. Each series will also include a strong presence from local nonprofit organizations, sharing USDA’s dedication to serving LGBT rural America.” (USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights website.)
Previous summits have been held in
- Greensboro, NC
- Lost River, WV
- Wayne, NE
- Dallas, TX
- Baton Rouge, LA
- Nashville TN
- Lexington, KY
- Jackson, MS
- Huntsville, AL
- Asheville, NC
As the #1 agricultural producing county in the United States, as well as an area with one of the largest number of gay couples raising children, per capita, the USDA has chosen Visalia as the latest community in which to hold a #RuralPride Summit.
“The centerpiece of the #RuralPride campaign is a series of day-long summits hosted by USDA, NCLR, the True Colors Fund, and a number of local partners based in rural communities across the country. These summits will give us a chance to focus on the unique needs of the rural LGBT community, highlight the important federal policy efforts underway to protect this community, and identify next steps to ensure all rural communities have access to the resources they need to thrive.” – NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights)
What is “#RuralPride?”
The USDA serves a wide variety of populations as it carries out it’s duties. Whether you are a LGBT farmer, farm worker, ag related vendor or employee, consumer, urban or rural resident, USDA is dedicated to insuring the resources of the Federal government are available to all equally, and transparently. You can’t access programs if you don’t know they exist. #RuralPride Summits are designed to bring together agencies and the public, to insure access. The summits target the LGBT community, who are often under-served in rural areas.
Contrary to widely held myths that the LGBT community is largely living in affluent metropolitan areas, studies show a very different and more realistic picture of the LGBT community. For a number of reasons, many people in the LGBT community choose to live, work, and raise their families in the rural communities that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proud to serve.
In fact, according to the Williams Institute, “almost 10% of all same-sex couples in the country live in rural America” and these couples are actually more likely to be families of color and raising children. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force also issued a report finding that these couples are more likely to be low-income and are almost twice as likely to receive public assistance. The transgender community is particularly vulnerable.
Transgender people, especially transgender people of color, experience disturbingly high rates of poverty across the country. Additional research conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality shows that they are four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 and twice as likely to be unemployed as non-transgender people. The LGBT community in rural America has a number of particular needs and vulnerabilities that USDA is excited to target and address.
In an effort to elevate the voices of the LGBT community living in rural America, USDA and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, is proud to launch the #RuralPride campaign. The centerpiece of this campaign is a series of day-long summits hosted by USDA, NCLR, and a number of local partners based in rural communities across the country.
These summits will give us a chance to focus on the unique needs of the rural LGBT community, highlight the important federal policy efforts underway to protect this community, and identify next steps to ensure all rural communities have access to the resources they need to thrive.
“We applaud the USDA for celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people living in rural communities across the country with this important series of summits,” said Cyndi Lauper, co-founder of the True Colors Fund. “LGBT youth comprise up to 40 percent of our nation’s homeless youth population. Those in rural communities face incredibly unique challenges and are such an important and often overlooked part of this conversation. The True Colors Fund is proud to partner with the USDA and NCLR to highlight their stories as a part of the many experiences that LGBT people face in rural America.” USDA
The Summit will be 9:30 am – 5 pm, and the public is invited. This event is free, and lunch will be provided. Please register at:
Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave, Visalia
For questions contact: