As we continue to strategize about how we are going to get our students back to school safely, it is important for us to highlight the glaring disparities in student resources that exist in our educational system.
Prior to COVID-19, “about 60 percent of students at community and technical colleges reported that they struggled with maintaining housing, food insecurity and poverty over the previous year” (Savransky, SeattlePi 2020). Unfortunately, homelessness disproportionately affects Black people and people who identify as LGBTQIA+. Youth who are Black and identify as LGBTQIA+ are most likely to be homeless in King County, where one-third of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQIA+ and one-third identify as Black (Walters, KUOW, 2019).
These housing disparities are compounded by the current rise in unemployment. This is why I am committed to eliminating disparities in resources for students with an emphasis on the low-income, Black and LGBTQIA+ youth. Additionally, we must also protect our students in our new digital society by ensuring their identity remains private, securing their data, and preventing discrimination in the use of new technologies.
Discrimination does not stop at our educational system disparities and use of technology. We must also make sure to have fair and equitable access to healthcare. COVID-19 has only illuminated these inequities. To create healthy communities for our students and youth, we need to provide the highest quality COVID-19 diagnostic, prevention and treatment technologies to everyone. Health insurance, employment, or residency status should not lead to disparities in healthcare.
Home is about feeling safe and secure, regardless of what you look like or how you identify. It is about feeling loved, appreciated, seen and heard by our community. This is what home is to me, and what, as a Black woman, I have fought for.
I envision an America where race and sexual orientation are not barriers to healthcare, housing, and education, nor seen as threats to a person’s ability to succeed.
-Debra Entenman, State Representative for Washington's 47th Legislative District