In an attempt to ensure that the rights of LGBT persons living in rural America are protected, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been holding summits in those areas to make sure those living there are aware of the benefits available, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
One such summit of the more than a dozen that have been held is taking place on Wednesday at Drake University in Iowa.
The USDA says, "Contrary to widely held myths that the LGBT community is largely living in affluent metropolitan areas, studies show a very different and more realistic picture." Nearly 10 percent of all same-sex couples in the United States reside in rural areas.
The agency says the summits "offer a unique opportunity for USDA and other federal agencies to share information relating to policies, programs, and services that exist to protect, promote and strengthen LGBT rural communities" and teach the LGBT community "how to get subsidies from the government like rural housing loans and community facility grants."
The USDA said that a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force issued a report that the transgender community is particularly vulnerable and that "these couples are more likely to be low-income and are almost twice as likely to receive public assistance."
The government emphasized that the LGBT community in rural areas has "a number of particular needs and vulnerabilities that USDA is excited to target and address."
The USDA has teamed up with the True Colors Fund, a group co-founded by singer and LGBT activist Cyndi Lauper, that works to end homelessness for LGBT teens.
"We applaud the USDA for celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people living in rural communities across the country with this important series of summits," Lauper said.
"LGBT youth comprise up to 40 percent of our nation’s homeless youth population. Those in rural communities face incredibly unique challenges and are such an important and often overlooked part of this conversation."
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