Connect with us


EXCLUSIVE: Advocates allege gay ICE detainee not receiving PTSD treatment

Luís Armando Mendoza Sanchez of Perú remains detained in Louisiana



Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Peru, Immigration

Luís Armando Mendoza Sanchez has been in ICE custody since February. Clement Lee of Immigration Equality acknowledged that PTSD is not uncommon among LGBT immigrants. (Washington Blade file photo)

Advocates and family members of a gay undocumented Peruvian immigrant who remains in a Louisiana detention center maintain he has not received proper treatment for the post-traumatic stress disorder that stems from the anti-gay discrimination and violence they say he suffered in his homeland.

U.S. Border Control agents took Luís Armando Mendoza Sanchez into custody near Penitas, Texas, on Feb. 25 shortly after he entered the country. Vinnie Picard, spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Blade that Mendoza, 22, told arresting officers that he was from Perú and that he was not afraid to return to the South American country. He noted that Mendoza informed agents who detained him near Douglas, Ariz., on Jan. 22 that he was from Mexico.

Picard said that Mendoza told an ICE officer a few days after agents took him into custody in Texas that he actually was afraid to return to Perú because of his sexual orientation. He was transferred to the New Orleans Field Office while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services evaluated his asylum claim.

Mendoza’s aunt Maribel, who lives in D.C., reached out to transgender activist Ruby Corado in July after she saw her on a local Spanish language television station. She told her that Mendoza was afraid that his fellow inmates at the Oakdale Federal Detention Center in central Louisiana were going to rape him.

Maribel, who declined to give her last name, told the Blade that her nephew left the Peruvian capital, Lima, six months ago to escape what she described as anti-gay persecution and violence from local police, neighbors and others. Mendoza’s parents passed away from AIDS when he was a teenager, and Maribel said that he sought what she described as a better life in the United States.

Corado relayed Maribel’s concerns to ICE officials.

“I have some serious concerns on the severe mental health consequences that result from the long terms of incarceration that many LGBT people experience while in custody of ICE,” she wrote in a July 27 e-mail to Melissa Jaramillo of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations that the Blade obtained. “Many of these detainees are people who have suffered severe trauma and incarceration in their home countries and have or are dealing with issues of sexual abuse and rape or the post-traumatic stresses after they were victims or a violent crime.”

Corado sent a second e-mail to Jaramillo on Aug. 8.

“Talking to Luís [Mendoza] tonight, it seems to me that my plea for help for LGBT victims like Luís is not going anywhere, no mental health or therapy is being offered to him,” she wrote. “Nobody has even attempted to reach out to him to help him address his mental anguish.”

Picard confirmed to the Blade that Corado had contacted ICE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that oversees the agency about concerns she and Maribel had over his safety.

“ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers immediately interviewed Mr. Mendoza about his perceived safety concerns,” he said. “Mister Mendoza’s only stated concern to ERO officers was how his claim of persecution based on his sexual orientation relates to his asylum case. Mister Mendoza did not affirmatively advise ERO or detention center staff of any safety concerns.”

Clement Lee of Immigration Equality acknowledged to the Blade that PTSD is not uncommon among LGBT immigrants. He further noted that a detainee’s access to medical care depends upon the type of facility in which they are held — some are run directly by ICE, while others are contract facilities and even local jails.

“Some of them get better care, some don’t,” said Lee. “I’ve had clients that have been able to get prescription medications to treat depression, to treat hallucinations. I’ve had other people who have sort of just languish and meet with a psychologist just one and say that’s too much — you’ve been raped 17 times, this is more than I can handle. The stress of being in detention sort of adds to that PTSD.”

Picard said Mendoza received a mental health screening from ICE Health Services Corps after he was transferred to the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, La., late last month. Agency protocol indicates that each detainee who enters an ICE detention facility undergoes a screening that includes a medical, dental and mental health evaluation within 12 hours of their arrival.

“The initial report from IHSC is that Mr. Mendoza had a standard medical and mental wellness check,” said Picard. “Mr. Mendoza reported that, in general, he is fine.”



GLAAD: Social media platforms continue to fail to protect LGBTQ users

Only TikTok received a passing grade



(Public domain photo)

GLAAD released its fourth annual Social Media Safety Index on Tuesday, giving virtually every major social media company a failing grade as it surveyed LGBTQ safety, privacy, and expression online.

According to GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, YouTube, X, and Meta’s Facebook, Instagram, and Threads received failing F grades on the SMSI Platform Scorecard for the third consecutive year.

The only exception was Chinese company ByteDance, owned TikTok, which earned a D+.

Some platforms have shown improvements in their scores since last year. Others have fallen, and overall, the scores remain abysmal, with all platforms other than TikTok receiving F grades.

●     TikTok: D+ — 67 percent (+10 points from 2023)

●     Facebook: F — 58 percent (-3 points from 2023)

●     Instagram: F — 58 percent (-5 points from 2023)

●     YouTube: F — 58 percent (+4 points from 2023)

●     Threads: F — 51 percent (new 2024 rating)

●     X: F — 41 percent (+8 points from 2023)

This year’s report also illuminates the epidemic of anti-LGBTQ hate, harassment, and disinformation across major social media platforms, and especially makes note of high-follower hate accounts and right-wing figures who continue to manufacture and circulate most of this activity.

“In addition to these egregious levels of inadequately moderated anti-LGBTQ hate and disinformation, we also see a corollary problem of over-moderation of legitimate LGBTQ expression — including wrongful takedowns of LGBTQ accounts and creators, shadowbanning, and similar suppression of LGBTQ content. Meta’s recent policy change limiting algorithmic eligibility of so-called ‘political content,’ which the company partly defines as: ‘social topics that affect a group of people and/or society large’ is especially concerning,” GLAAD Senior Director of Social Media Safety Jenni Olson said in the press release annoucing the report’s findings.

Specific LGBTQ safety, privacy, and expression issues identified include:

●      Inadequate content moderation and problems with policy development and enforcement (including issues with both failure to mitigate anti-LGBTQ content and over-moderation/suppression of LGBTQ users);

●      Harmful algorithms and lack of algorithmic transparency; inadequate transparency and user controls around data privacy;

●      An overall lack of transparency and accountability across the industry, among many other issues — all of which disproportionately impact LGBTQ users and other marginalized communities who are uniquely vulnerable to hate, harassment, and discrimination.

Key conclusions:

●      Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and disinformation on social media translates to real-world offline harms.

●      Platforms are largely failing to successfully mitigate dangerous anti-LGBTQ hate and disinformation and frequently do not adequately enforce their own policies regarding such content.

●      Platforms also disproportionately suppress LGBTQ content, including via removal, demonetization, and forms of shadowbanning.

●      There is a lack of effective, meaningful transparency reporting from social media companies with regard to content moderation, algorithms, data protection, and data privacy practices.

Core recommendations:

●      Strengthen and enforce existing policies that protect LGBTQ people and others from hate, harassment, and misinformation/disinformation, and also from suppression of legitimate LGBTQ expression.

●      Improve moderation including training moderators on the needs of LGBTQ users, and moderate across all languages, cultural contexts, and regions. This also means not being overly reliant on AI.

●      Be transparent with regard to content moderation, community guidelines, terms of service policy implementation, algorithm designs, and enforcement reports. Such transparency should be facilitated via working with independent researchers.

●      Stop violating privacy/respect data privacy. To protect LGBTQ users from surveillance and discrimination, platforms should reduce the amount of data they collect, infer, and retain. They should cease the practice of targeted surveillance advertising, including the use of algorithmic content recommendation. In addition, they should implement end-to-end encryption by default on all private messaging to protect LGBTQ people from persecution, stalking, and violence.

●      Promote civil discourse and proactively message expectations for user behavior, including respecting platform hate and harassment policies.

Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court declines to hear lawsuit against Montgomery County schools gender guidelines

4th Circuit last August dismissed parents’ case



U.S. Supreme Court (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a lawsuit against Montgomery County Public Schools guidelines that allow schools to create plans in support of transgender or gender nonconfirming students without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

Three parents of students in the school district — none of whom have trans or gender nonconfirming children — filed the lawsuit. 

A judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last August dismissed the case. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

Continue Reading


Bill to support LGBTQ seniors in rural areas reintroduced

Advocates praise Elder Pride Act



(Washington Blade file photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) reintroduced legislation to increase access to needed services and resources for LGBTQ seniors who live in rural areas this week.

The Elder Pride Act would bolster the capacity and ability of Area Agencies on Aging located in rural communities to better serve and support LGBTQ seniors who often require affirming care, services, and supports that are often underfunded and scarce in many parts of the country.

Recent surveys show that between 2.9 million and 3.8 million LGBTQ people live in rural American communities.

“LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV live in every part of this nation, including rural areas. We all deserve to be able to age in our communities with the services and supports we need to remain independent,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams said in the press release announcing the reintroduction of the legislation. “We commend Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Sharice Davids (D-KS) on reintroducing the Elder Pride Act. And we honor the contributions of our many LGBTQ+ trailblazers whose tireless advocacy allowed us to reintroduce this critical bill. We look forward to working alongside Reps. Bonamici, Pocan, and Davids, and our LGBTQ+ pioneers nationwide to pass this legislation.”

“LGBTQI+ seniors should be able to access services and care that meets their unique needs, regardless of where they live,” said Bonamici, chair of the Equality Caucus’s LGBTQ+ Aging Issues Task Force.”Those who live in rural areas frequently face increased barriers, which Congress can break down. The Elder Pride Act will increase resources for programs and services that will improve the lives of LGBTQI+ elders.”

“The Elder Pride Act will improve the overall health and social and economic well-being of LGBTQI+ older adults and seniors living with HIV in rural areas by better equipping senior service providers with resources to address the unique needs of these communities. I’m pleased to introduce this important legislation with my colleagues and co-leaders on the Equality Caucus, Reps. Pocan and Davids,” Bonamici added.

“Rural LGBTQI+ seniors have been lacking access to necessary services and care for too long,” said Pocan, co-chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “The Elder Pride Act creates opportunities for LGBTQ+ seniors in rural communities, benefiting everyone in the region. I look forward to advancing this important legislation.”

“Many of our LGBTQ+ elders fought tirelessly for equality in a world that refused to accept their identity,” said Davids. “While they overcame tremendous odds to give future generations the rights they deserve, our elders, particularly those in rural communities, continue to face discrimination when accessing long-term care and healthcare. I am proud to support the Elder Pride Act because who you are and who you love should never increase your risk for isolation, poverty, and poor health outcomes as you age.”

The Elder Pride Act complements the Older American Act, which was updated under Bonamici’s leadership, by establishing a rural grant program designed to fund care and services for LGBTQ seniors. The grant would also support programs that:

• Provide services such as cultural competency training for service providers;

• Develop modes of connection between LGBTQI+ older adults and local service providers and community organizations;

• Expand the use of nondiscrimination policies and community spaces for older adults who are members of the LGBTQI+ community or another protected class; and,

• Disseminate resources on sexual health and aging for senior service providers.

A fact sheet on the legislation can be found here, and the full text can be found here.

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade