The road of progress is never straight. The queer community has made great progress over the last several years, both in public relations and with rights and protections. But over the past few weeks, there have been stinging losses in North Carolina, Mississippi and Puerto Rico that have set the queer community back.
Even with as much progress as the queer community has made, there are still 28 states in which sexual orientation and gender identity can be used as a means to fire someone from their job. The threat of possibly losing our jobs is stressful. Consider when your employer was going through downsizing or layoffs. Whether you survived or not, it was stressful.
Now add that some states are making it legal to deny certain citizens basic services based on religious principles. While the argument has been dumbed down, we all know the debate is about more than cakes and pizza.
The queer community has faced headwinds in many facets of life. Finance is no exception. Here are four things that are more expensive for the queer community.
1. Having a Family
Queer couples that want to create a family of their own have their work cut out for them. According to the Human Rights Campaign, private agency adoptions can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $40,000. And many same-sex couples have to pay for second adoptions, which cost between $2,000 and $3,000.
For couples who want a biological child, the costs are higher, especially for gay and lesbians couples that aren’t able to bear the child. Surrogacy can cost the couple between $70,000 to over $150,000 per child.
Starting a family as a queer couple is one of the highest expenses the couple can undertake. This doesn’t include the $245,000 it costs to raise a child to the age of 18 in the U.S., according to estimates released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014.
2. Long-Term Care
In our later years, we all want to live our lives the way we choose. For most, they have the support of their family. For the majority of older queers today, a family wasn’t a part of the plan. Thus they must rely on themselves and their money to live out their later years. Moving away from your home may be necessary. The average annual cost for a basic nursing home comes in at around $80,000, according to Genworth’s 2015 Cost of Care Survey. This cost can eat up a lifetime of savings quickly.
Since queers don’t want to go back into the closet when transitioning to a care facility, we have a limited number of facilities from which to choose. While the Equality Act is still making its way through Congress, many long-term care facilities don’t currently offer sexual orientation and identity protections. This limits the number of facilities to which queer people can go for the care they want and need.
3. Career Advancement
Many industries are surrounded by white, patriarchal walls. Minorities are tearing down those walls, making the working world a more diverse and efficient place. Much progress has been made, even for the queer community.
However, while open discrimination wanes, soft discrimination remains. Someone who’s not part of the “boys’ club” doesn’t get the same time and attention of their boss as someone who is.
While many marginalized groups aren’t consciously shut out, they simply don’t get the same face time.
With all else being equal, queers are often overlooked for raises and promotions that cost a lot in the long run. A recent study showed that gay white men in the U.K. must spend about $54,000 getting extra degrees and work experience to have the equivalent opportunities and career advancement as their straight white male counterparts.
Just remember — coming out at work could still cost you your job in 28 states. For this reason alone, many queers avoid career choices that may suit their skills or passions, simply because they cannot afford to lose their job.
Housing is not necessarily more expensive for the queer community. However, in states such as North Carolina and Mississippi where someone can be refused housing because of their sexual orientation, this limits their supply of housing. With the risk of being evicted at any moment, queers in these states should consider a larger emergency savings than they otherwise would. This is money that might have been spent on a higher standard of living or investments, both of which better serve the broader community.
An additional cost is associated with physical security. Precautions, such as alarm systems and living in more accepting, but more expensive areas of town, may provide some in the queer community with a higher sense of physical security. This comes at a cost. For some this also means moving away from friends and family to live in those more accepting, usually more expensive, cities and states.
To know better is to do better. Therefore, it’s incumbent for queer people to assess their situation and plan accordingly. Wanting to start a family, choosing a career, planning for retirement and deciding where to live affects everyone. For queer people, such costs are higher and may be prohibitive to their wants and desires.
We encourage creating a financial plan to address unique needs, which may include the nuances of their sexual orientation. Whether we’re in the heart of Mississippi or San Francisco, it’s up to us to build the life we want.
[Editor’s Note: You can monitor your financial goals, like building a good credit score, each month on Credit.com.]
This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.
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