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VTDigger: Mike Pieciak: LGBTQI+ financial disparities must be addressed

June 30, 2023

Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate LGBTQI+ identities, promote inclusivity, and highlight our community’s progress toward achieving equality.  

There is a lot to celebrate in Vermont. The election of Congresswoman Becca Balint and me made Vermont the first state in U.S. history to elect two openly LGBTQI+ statewide officials in the same election. 

Winooski recently became only the second city in the country to have an entirely LGBTQI+ city council, and the Vermont Legislature currently has the highest per-capita LGBTQI+ representation in the country. I’m confident this new wave of leadership will help ensure more inclusive policies and empowerment for the LGBTQI+ community.    

As state treasurer, I’m focused on the economic success and financial security of all Vermonters. Although Vermont has made great strides in LGBTQI+ representation, there is significant work remaining to achieve financial equity. 

A recent study found that 27% of LGBTQI+ Vermonters live in poverty and are twice as likely to experience food insecurity. The Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement recently found that LGBTQI+ Americans are twice as likely to have poor credit scores compared to non-LGBTQI+ counterparts. LGBTQI+ individuals are thus twice as likely to be considered high-risk borrowers, meaning they are likely to receive higher interest rates on loans and incur higher long-term costs from borrowing. 

This makes it more difficult for members of the LGBTQI+ community to invest in wealth-building assets like a home or to pursue higher education opportunities that lead to better-paying jobs. 

Financial literacy is critical in closing these gaps, but most states, including Vermont, do not require financial education in the school curriculum. Some parents may pass down personal finance skills to their children, but this is problematic, as we know so many LGBTQI+ youth are not supported by their families because of their sexuality or identity. 

Relying on individuals to independently acquire this knowledge all but ensures that many will continue to fall through the cracks and fall behind. 

Providing financial education and resources specifically tailored to LGBTQI+ individuals will help build the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate our financial lives. This Pride, our office is committing to creating these resources for the LGBTQI+ community and partnering with organizations to provide financial education across Vermont.      

As Pride concludes, I hope we will remain mindful of the unique financial challenges facing the LGBTQI+ community. As Vermont’s first openly gay state treasurer, I know we can create a future where financial empowerment is a reality for everyone. Let us work hand in hand, leaving no one behind on the path to financial well-being.