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Gay-rights group announces survey results, new director

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published July 28, 2014 at 2:20 p.m.

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The Human Rights Campaign Arkansas announced Monday that Kendra Johnson, pictured with Project One America Director Brad Clark (left), will be the organization's new director.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-equality organization, on Monday announced results from a recent survey evaluating challenges faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Arkansas.

Speaking at a news conference at the state Capitol, Project One America Director Brad Clark said the survey — conducted online in February and March by the Human Rights Campaign in Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama — was the largest survey of its kind across the South.

“It surveys the needs and priorities of LGBT people in all three of these states,” he said. “The results were not that shocking or surprising perhaps. LGBT folks have the same hopes and dreams as anyone else.”

Fifty-eight percent of Arkansas' LGBT community have called the state home for more than 20 years, and nine percent have served or are serving in the armed forces, according to the survey. It also states that Arkansas has one of the highest rates of same-sex couples raising children.

Of those surveyed, 25 percent claim to have experienced employment discrimination, 37 percent reported they've been harassed at work and 38 percent said they earn less than $45,000 per year.

Beyond the workplace, 39 percent said they've been harassed by members of their family, 43 percent were purportedly harassed in public establishments, 16 percent reported harassment from a public servant and 18 percent were said to have experienced harassment at least monthly at their places of worship.

The Human Rights Campaign launched Project One America earlier this year to further evaluate these claims and "dramatically expand LGBT equality in the South through permanent campaigns in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas," according to its website.

“LGBT folks face some incredible obstacles in terms of discrimination or harassment, from the workplace to the church pews, and that’s what we seek to change,” Clark said.

In addition to announcing the survey results, the Human Rights Campaign also announced the new director for its Arkansas office.

Kendra Johnson, 43, will lead the organization’s Project One America effort across the state.

Clark said Arkansas needed a leader who is familiar with the obstacles someone in the LGBT community faces on a daily basis.

"Our team has been searching high and low, holding countless interviews in an attempt to identify just the right person to lead our campaign here in Arkansas, and we found that in the new Arkansas state director Kendra Johnson,” Clark said.

Johnson said she’s "looking forward to really to making a positive change in Arkansas, changing hearts and minds.”

“[I’m working on] creating a dialogue so there’s broader understanding and advancing protections for LGBT Arkansans,” she said.

Johnson received her undergraduate degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, where she started the university's first LGBT support group, and earned a graduate degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She most recently worked at Better Community Development, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

“Creating safe spaces has been a passion for me,” Johnson said Monday.

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Packman says... July 28, 2014 at 2:59 p.m.

"Of those surveyed, 25 percent claim to have experienced employment discrimination, 37 percent reported they've been harassed at work and 38 percent said they earn less than $45,000 per year." Would be interesting to see how these numbers compare to heterosexuals. Or do GBTQ's not believe discrimination exists beyond their ranks? Would also be interesting to see how the survey defined "harassment".
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Noticed that Ms. Johnson has a couple of college degrees. What do you want to bet they both ended in the word "studies"?
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Hey Ms. Johnson - Regarding those obstacles the GBLTQ community faces every day, would you mind addressing this scenario: A racist, sexist, homophobe is interviewing three people for job, a black gay man, a Hispanic female, and a white heterosexual man. All 3 are equally qualified. Who gets the job and why? What "obstacle" did the G man face in that equation? Looking forward to your response.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... July 28, 2014 at 4:04 p.m.

Well ... that sounds the average for all Americans. Their point just escapes me.

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Dontcallmenames says... July 28, 2014 at 4:53 p.m.

The point is we're getting this slammed in our faces whether we like it or not or even if we do or don't believe anything this group or those surveyed claim. We're homophobes if we don't all just shake our heads "yes" to whatever they do and let this tiny minority force their views into all areas of our lives.

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AntiPostmodernismLeague says... July 28, 2014 at 4:59 p.m.

A recent poll by the Center for Disease Control (a federal agency) revealed that only about 3-5% of the people in the United States are homosexual. Only 3% admitted it and 2% were unsure so they allowed for up to 5%. All of the rest were normal.
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Based on the information presented in the media, you would think that 95-97% are homosexual, but this is clearly not true. A vast majority of Americans are not homosexual and view this addiction as strange and demented. Is there some reason the media is so interested in this filthy lifestyle?

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23cal says... July 28, 2014 at 5:38 p.m.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban violates the Constitution. How many consecutive federal court victories now? I lose track it’s so many. Twenty? That’s a lot of…*ahem*…activist judges.
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The really good news? The Fourth Circuit ruling should apply in five states: Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
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Your impotent rage is music to my ears. I metaphorically bathe in your tears. You are well on your way to being looked upon with the same disgust and contempt as the Central High racists of 1957. Y'all have a nice trip to the dustbin of history.

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DEE672 says... July 28, 2014 at 6:42 p.m.

I understand many people are pleased and relieved that a survey claims there are so few gay people among us, but the survey is absurdly inaccurate. I know many gay people and all are in the closet because going public is dangerous, costly, and career ending. In 32 states employers can fire people they just "think" might be gay. Landlords can evict them from their apartments or condos. Their families and churches can turn on them. So only people with nothing to lose answer these surveys truthfully. From personal knowledge I would estimate about 15% of the population is gay, but from all the numbers of well known people coming out, I may be underestimating. But it really doesn't matter the number when it remains immoral to discriminate against this minority.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... July 28, 2014 at 7:35 p.m.

" .... it remains immoral to discriminate against this minority.", but it is okay for others?

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Packman says... July 28, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.

Hey 23Cal - The fact you refuse to address the following scenario illustrates the insanity of equating a lifestyle choice with civil rights: Regarding those obstacles the GBLTQ community faces every day, would you mind addressing this scenario: A racist, sexist, homophobe is interviewing three people for job, a black gay man, a Hispanic female, and a white heterosexual man. All 3 are equally qualified. Who gets the job and why? What "obstacle" did the G man face in that equation? Looking forward to your response.
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Hey DEE672 - "In 32 states employers can fire people they just "think" might be gay." This statement is a lie. "So only people with nothing to lose answer these surveys truthfully." Wrong. People that tell the truth answer questions truthfully. From personal knowledge I would estimate about .25% of the population is gay. How do you know kids are GBLTQ? What about senior citizens? You are grossly overestimating due to lack of critical thought. "But it really doesn't matter the number when it remains immoral to discriminate against this minority" Would you mind answering the question I posed to 23Cal? You will quickly see the folly in your contention regarding the concept of discrimination as applied to a lifestyle choice.

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djigoo says... July 28, 2014 at 10:36 p.m.

There is no end to Pack's inherent derpitude.

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Dontsufferfools says... July 29, 2014 at 12:08 a.m.

You keep asking that question, packman, but why keep us in suspense. Tell us who you hired.
But seriously, a "lifestyle choice?" Through human history, homosexuals have persecuted, executed, ex-communicated, tortured, discriminated against, imprisoned. Why would anyone "choose" it as a lifestyle?

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