Disability and Queerness | Deaf Awareness Month

Video: https://youtu.be/qBb8csox3d0

Welcome to the first post of Deaf Awareness Month! I’m starting off big – combining disability and queerness. I want to be clear here that when I say disability, I’m including physical, emotional, and educational disabilities. Basically, any kind of disability – and yes, I’m including deaf people in this. For those who aren’t aware, Deaf people generally don’t consider themselves disabled, just Deaf. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the capitalization of deaf changed. Quickly – large D is culturally deaf, small d is medically deaf. I will be making a post/video discussing that later on. With that being made clear, let’s get into today’s video. Far too often, in ANY organization, business, company, disabled people and queer people are either forgotten or marginalized. This is obvious to anyone who pays attention. That isn’t really what I want to discuss today. What I DO want to discuss is that I’m pretty disappointed in the inclusion of disabled people when it comes to queer organizations, businesses, companies, and even events. Actually…especially events. I did a basic search for the word disability on websites connected to queer organizations. The pages that I searched are: GLAAD, PFLAG, HRC, GLAD (law), Pride at Work, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, and ILGA. On most of these websites, the only mention of disability is in the Equal Employment Opportunity policy or job postings. I understand that these organizations are focused on advocating for queer people, and disabled people aren’t a priority. Some of you might even say that shouldn’t be a part of their advocacy, leave it to the disability organizations. However, that’s the same argument people gave when gays and lesbians said “us first, then trans people.” Or something along those lines. The same mentality often happens in any other civil rights group: us first, then you. I disagree with that sentiment. The more you include now, the less work later. Queer disabled people face two different sets of discrimination, and in some cases, a whole unique set of discrimination that one or the other doesn’t experience. Too often, advocacy is narrowly focused on one aspect of a person’s identity, at the cost of other aspects. A really good word here is intersectionality. I have a collab planned to discuss more in-depth about that, so I won’t elaborate too much here. But basically, intersectionality is being mindful of the fact that a single identity does not exist in a bubble and WILL be influenced by other identities. I want to give you some stats related to queer and disabled students. These stats come from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the findings show that these students are:

  • more likely to have experienced all types of disciplinary actions (47.8%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (36.9%);
  • more likely to drop out of school (5.8%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (2.6%);
  • more likely to have been involved in the justice system (4.4%) than their LGBTQ non-disabled peers (1.7%).

In addition, queer disabled youth who are also POC are even more likely to be unfairly treated. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come as a surprise. The stats I just gave you are focused on youth, but I’m sure the stats in the adult population would look fairly similar. There are a lot of studies out there that show what percentage of disabled people have been in the justice system or are unemployed. And, of course, how many queer people have been in the justice system or are unemployed… But what about that intersection? I honestly don’t know. There’s also no definite number of how many disabled people are also queer (or vice versa). However, I did find this HuffPost article from 2016 that quotes from a Center for American Progress report. The quote says, “nearly one in five adults has a disability, or will experience one at some point in their life. It’s estimated that between 3 to 5 million Americans with disabilities also identify as queer.” The article also discusses different ways how the queer community does/doesn’t include disabled people. However, most of the disabilities this article mentions are HIV/AIDS, PTSD, or invisible disabilities. No mention of other types of disability so take this article with a grain of salt.

I think this is a good place to stop, so that’s all for today. I’m sure there’s a lot more information, but this is a good start. When I make that collab, I will link it here. I want to know your thoughts on this, please leave them in the comments! (Also, if you happen to know of a job that’d be good for me, that’d be awesome!)

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Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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