LGBT individuals in Central Missouri face a range of challenges related to discrimination, education, and health. Discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations is a reality for many LGBT people in the region. To address this issue, tracking the number of contracts awarded to certified LGBT commercial companies (LGBTBE) is one way to measure progress. LGBT students may also need more comprehensive sex education in schools, as their parents may not be familiar with recommendations for safer sex for LGBT people.
In some states and school districts, gym class is mandatory, which can put LGBT students in a difficult situation. The HIV/AIDS epidemic had a significant impact on the LGBT community, creating an infrastructure of organizations dedicated to meeting the health and social needs of LGBT people. Even without overt intimidation and harassment, LGBT students in Central Missouri often feel alone or unwelcome in their school environment. The lack of discussion around LGBT issues in schools sends the message that their identity is inappropriate and leaves them unprepared to deal with problems that heterosexual and cisgender peers may face.
Furthermore, few doctors are aware of or sensitive to the health risks or health needs of LGBT people. The report documented the rampant harassment and discrimination against LGBT students in schools across the country, urging policy makers and school officials to take concrete steps to respect and protect the rights of LGBT youth. When LGBT issues were raised in class, students said that it was often like a debate in a government or current affairs class, in which the teacher remained clearly neutral on the topic. With these caveats in mind, this section summarizes what is known from the limited data available on the demographic characteristics of LGBT populations in Central Missouri. The HIV/AIDS epidemic also helped create an infrastructure for the provision of social and health services that currently exists in the LGBT community. In addition to individual and collective trauma, the LGBT community faced the challenge of how to respond to AIDS in a society that they considered already hostile to it. Counseling is particularly important for LGBT youth, who face stressors at home and in schools that place them at high risk of adverse academic and mental health outcomes.
County and city executives can take a big step toward equality in the workplace by prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment and incorporating that prohibition into personnel policies. In some schools, students used derogatory phrases such as “that's so gay” and insults such as “lesbian” or “ladybug” to belittle or mock their classmates, whether or not they were the recipients identified as LGBT.