LGBTQ+ Communities, Social Justice Values, and Healing Justice
Dear ones, it has been a tough few weeks. Here at the QLaw Foundation, we have been drawing on the example of our queer elders who founded movements for trans justice, queer justice, and disability justice. Institutional racism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny, income inequality, housing instability, and health care discrimination are not new to us, but they all contribute to the ways in which our beloved LGBTQ+ communities are particularly impacted by all of the effects of this virus.
Our fight for justice for our communities will not slow down now. Our free LGBTQ+ Legal Clinics will remain functioning and transition to phone-only consultations, for the foreseeable future, and more clinic appointments and other resources will be made available in the coming weeks. This ensures that you can continue to get the same LGBTQ+ centered, caring, and affirming legal support you need, without risking your own health or safety. We have provided resources here to help you get started with some basic employment and health care protections, but please check the resources themselves frequently, as conditions are changing rapidly and we are all trying to keep up.
But most of all, we believe in the transformative power that our communities have together. We know your hearts need healing as much as your body does. Remember to call on all of your resources – your friends, your neighbors, your chosen family – and we can all carry each other through.
With love and justice,
QLaw Foundation Executive Director
Yes! Our LGBTQ+ Legal Clinics will transition to phone-based legal support for the foreseeable future, but we will continue to make clinic appointments available in the coming weeks and months. We will also add additional clinic dates to provide legal support specific to COVID-19 legal impacts. Check back on our website regularly, and follow us on social media (@qlawfoundation on facebook, twitter, and Instagram) for regular updates.
Washington Law Help is maintaining an up-to-date database of information about our state and local courts, health insurance access, employment benefits, and general information about coronavirus or COVID-19. And, it offers great information about all kinds of other legal questions you may have at any time, including renters’ rights, divorce and child custody information, legal name changes, protections against collection of medical and consumer debt, and other questions you may have.
This Washington State Department of Employment Security chart will give you a quick summary of the type of employment support that is best for your situation.
Our friends at the Lavender Rights Project have helped us create an online resource page that provides forms and guidance to assist you in creating Estate Plans and Health Care Directives. If you find you need the assistance of an attorney or have legal questions relating to estate planning, please remember that you may sign up for a consultation at one of our QLaw legal clinics here.
It is important to remember that Washington law prohibits discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity in health insurance coverage and in places of public accommodation such as hospitals. We have prepared an information sheet that outlines your rights regarding hospital visits, requests for medical records, hospital visitation and other healthcare situations. This resource is available in both English and Spanish.
It is important to remember that employees have certain rights against workplace discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a useful guide to employee rights relating to COVID-19 here.
This site provides links to applications for unemployment benefits (if you are laid off or your employer closes), standby benefits (if you are still employed but your work has slowed down or temporarily closed), state paid sick leave (if you are caring for yourself or a child who is ill or if your child’s school closes due to COVID-19), and workers’ compensation (if you contract COVID-19 on the job or are a first-responder quarantined due to on-the-job exposure). The United Way of King County suggest taking these steps in order to get help if you find yourself unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19.
The National Employment Law Project has prepared this useful fact sheet that discusses immigrant worker eligibility for certain state and federal benefits if you are unemployed through no fault of your own.
The Seattle/King County COVID19 Mutual Aid Network has prepared a toolkit with tips on workplace advocacy, including useful sample letters for communicating with your employer regarding COVID-19.
Our community partners at GBSA, Washington’s LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, have set up a helpful page full of resources for small business relief.
The Seattle Office of Economic Development has set up the Small Business Stabilization Fund for small businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Please visit the website to learn more about eligibility and grants.
The Green Light Project’s Sex Worker Aid Initiative is raising funds to support sex workers impacted by COVID-19. You can donate here, or contact organizers about requesting funds.
The NW Network is an amazing resource for survivors of abuse that seeks to end violence and abuse in our community. They offer both support groups and individual advocacy, and are available to help by telephone. More information can be found here.
Please consider signing up for Mutual Aid Solidarity Networks in your community. Opportunities to help out with food delivery are available in Seattle and Tacoma. If you are unable to volunteer for food deliveries, please consider donating to ensure that everyone is able to receive nutritious food during these uncertain times. A current list of Mutual Aid Networks can be found here, with Washington-specific networks found near the bottom of the page.
Local author Ijeoma Oluo has organized a fundraising campaign to support Seattle artists impacted by COVID-19. You can donate and request funds here.
The Washington Health Benefits Exchange has a special enrollment period open until April 8. Remember that you can enroll in private insurance as well as Medicaid (depending on income) to ensure complete coverage.
Our community partners at Ingersoll Gender Center have a helpful directory to assist you, as well as staff dedicated to health care access assistance.
The City of Seattle has suspended all utility shut-offs during the COVID-19 Civil State of Emergency in Seattle. Information on how to set up a deferred payment plan for your household can be found here. If you are low-income, you may be eligible for the City of Seattle’s Utility Discount Program, which offers 50-60% discounts on your Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities bills. You can self-certify here.
The Lavender Rights Project has prepared a COVID-19 Housing Resource Page for tenants who are facing possible eviction and has a wealth of resources for any Landlord-Tenant issues that may arise relating the pandemic. Please note: the State of Washington and many localities have instituted eviction moratoriums and other housing protections. More information on local legislation can be found here.
Many courts in our state are changing their operating procedures in an effort to address the COVID-19 situation. Please check the Washington Courts website for current information on local court closures and scheduling modifications. If you have a pending matter in federal court or outside of Washington State, please go here.
Courts are currently scheduling hearings for emergency matters, and a judge will decide if your issue is an emergency. We have prepared an information sheet with guidance on what procedures to follow if you need to access the courts for a sealed name change, a protection order, or an emergency family law hearing. This resource is available in both English and Spanish.
Our community partners at the Ingersoll Gender Center are maintaining an up-to-date list where you can find many other resources to help address issues and concerns that arise due to COVID-19.
LGBTQ Allyship is maintaining a COVID-19 Community Resource list with helpful links.
Washington State is maintaining a website with information and links to various programs and services that may be helpful for Washington residents who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.