Pride in Progress: Economic Growth to Empower the LGBTQ+ Community

Abby Ling

Since June was officially designated as Pride Month in 2000, the LGBTQ+ community and its allies have celebrated the historic fights, achievements, remembrances, and revolutions within the LGBTQ+ community. However, an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ measures for the second year in a row has put a damper on Pride as progress among the community comes under threat from our own elected officials. In fact, lawmakers have proposed nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ proposals in 2023 alone. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that many face employment discrimination, only making LGBTQ+ individuals more susceptible to poverty as compared to their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts.

In 2020, 20% of Americans who identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community lived in poverty. However, in 2021, the rate dropped to 17%. Subgroups within the community also experienced similar patterns, such as the poverty rate among LGBTQ+ households with children, which declined from 36% in 2020 to 26% in 2021. The CTC expansion, in particular, is credited with lifting millions of children out of poverty; however, its expiration at the end of December 2021 resulted in millions falling back into poverty.

Notably, the timeline of economic progress made in the LGBTQ+ community aligns with the timeline of the implementation of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which expanded the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This strongly indicates that tax credits should continue to be employed to support our nation’s most vulnerable communities, like the LGBTQ+ community, and help them overcome socioeconomic hardships by making the anti-poverty tool easily accessible for folks who could most benefit from it.

(Re-)Expand Existing Benefits

Over 8 million workers in the U.S. over 16 years old identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Over 3 million of those workers live in states where discrimination against LGBTQ+ in employment is not prohibited, which will only further exacerbate concerns like food security, stable housing, and more.

Luckily, researchers, policymakers, and advocates are now proposing to reimplement and make permanent the 2021 expanded tax credits, which would increase the value of the federal CTC from its current $2,000 to $3,600 for children under 6-years-old and $3,000 for children 6 to 17-years-old. This change would put more money back in the pockets of eligible families, including LGBTQ+ households with children.

A similar proposal from U.S. Senate Democrats also looks to re-expand the federal EITC, nearly tripling its value and eliminating the maximum eligible age limit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQ+ adults aged 50 and older were more likely to have household incomes below the federal poverty level than straight, cisgender adults. Therefore, removing the age limit on who can claim the federal tax credit would allow more eligible households to receive necessary benefits. Should either proposal, or a hybrid of both, become law, we can expect to see a drop in LGBTQ+ poverty rates and take a critical step forward in mitigating the economic disparity between LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ individuals.

“Everyone should have a fair chance to provide a home for their families and access essential services without fear of harassment or discrimination.” – The Human Rights Campaign

Although tax credits cannot solve the problem of discrimination or regressive policies targeting the LGBTQ+ community, they can support one of our nation’s most vulnerable communities. Expanding existing benefits, such as the federal CTC and EITC, would empower LGBTQ+ folks financially and empower them to better provide for themselves and their families, even in the face of increasing discrimination against the communities. This Pride month, as we celebrate, recognize, and honor the progress made in the LGBTQ+ community, let us also recognize the battles that persist and the ways in which this nation can support the social and economic well-being of our nation’s LGBTQ+ community.