Disability Pride Month
Since 1990, Disability Pride Month has honored people with disabilities and seeks to end the stigmas associated with disability. People with disabilities make up 15% of the world’s population and, in the United States, 1 in 4 adults have some type of disability.
Despite the fact that ableism and racism go hand-in-hand, the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not include people with disabilities. It was not until 1973 that the Rehabilitation Act – the first federal legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability related to federal programs, services, and employment – was passed.
And, it took nearly two decades more for expanded protections, with the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA greatly expanded protections to include matters of physical accessibility, transportation, employment, government services, and other areas of public life.
While the ADA is widely viewed as landmark legislation, it should be considered the floor, rather than the ceiling. Implementation and compliance with ADA standards remains inadequate, particularly for certain communities. For example, low-income people with disabilities face difficulty finding housing that can meet their needs because low-income housing often offers too few options, particularly for people with mobility disabilities.
This month, we call on you to learn more about folks with disabilities and how you can support them. Here are some places to start:
Call your representatives and tell them to advocate for legislation that supports folks with disabilities on the local, state, and federal levels. The Arc, which has been at the forefront of the fight for the civil rights and inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families, has some suggested initiatives to support here.
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is observed each July to bring awareness to the unique struggles that racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental illness in the United States. Statistically, minority groups face more significant impacts to their mental health, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For example:
Adult Black people are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult white people.
American Indian/Alaska Natives are 60 percent more likely to experience the feeling that everything is an effort, all or most of the time, as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
More than half of Hispanic young adults ages 18-25 with serious mental illness may not receive treatment. This inequality puts these communities at a higher risk for more severe and persistent forms of mental health conditions, because without treatment, mental health conditions often worsen.
We can and must do better in support of all people’s mental health. As always, here are your calls to action:
Learn what mental health resources are available to you and your community. Get started on your mental health journey by learning from mentalhealthishealth.us. The DC Department of Behavioral Health has a list of support services at https://dbh.dc.gov/page/where-get-help.
Share information about the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline with others. Folks can call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. This service is confidential, free, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In life-threatening situations, call 911.
Donate to organizations that support mental health, including the YWCA National Capital Area. Other organizations to consider include the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Active Minds and The Women’s Center.
Why It Matters Now
Both of these months aim to honor and bring awareness to communities & individuals who continue to be marginalized in our country. And, while we want to spend this month celebrating and educating, we also want to remember that the rolling back of progress and civil rights for people in this country remains in full swing at our nation’s highest court.
In recent weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued rulings that have eliminated the consideration of race in higher education admissions; ended protections from discrimination for the LGBTQ+ community; and invalidated the Biden Administration’s student loan forgiveness program.
At the YWCA National Capital Area, we are committed to upholding our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women with the utmost of urgency, especially when our community is experiencing discrimination and adversity. The work of equity building is never done, especially as the Court continues to erect steeper barriers.
The 2024 election cycle has already begun and we hope you are committed to mobilizing our collective power. Join us by getting registered to vote if you are not! We have lots of work to do, but together we can make our voices heard.