The Public Policy Committee is excited to present Div. 44 members with our strategic plan for 2020–21.

In the spring of 2020, we conducted a survey of the division membership to better understand what initiatives and activities the public policy committee could engage in that were most beneficial to members. A total of 52 people completed the survey. Most people (86%) were familiar with the Public Policy Committee and had engaged with the committee in some capacity. Members indicated that they were most likely to have utilized the calls to action (64%) and rapid response policy statements (56%) the committee has created. Of several potential initiatives that the committee could engage in, people were most interested in additional calls to action on the listserv (M = 4.10, SD = 1.10), online resources for state- and local-level (M = 4.0, SD = 1.25) and federal advocacy (M = 3.83, SD = 1.29), and webinar trainings (M = 3.71, SD = 1.35).

In alignment with feedback from Div. 44 Listserv members, at the Executive Board (EB) Mid-Winter Meeting, the Public Policy Committee was charged with collaborating with the APA Office of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (OSOGD) to formulate a more strategic response to federal legislative issues and a targeted response to state-level legislative issues. We are moving towards having both a reactive response (e.g., position statements regarding rulings) and a proactive response (e.g., action items targeting policy efforts before a bill is passed/defeated) to maximize our impact.

Our three priority issues are: 1) transgender discrimination bans, 2) religious freedom/religious exemption laws, and 3) sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts. These align with Div. 44 core concerns and with APA advocacy efforts. Further, these are issues that are targeted nationally and at state-levels. We will be targeting policy that is harmful to the community and policy that is protective or supportive, as well.

Based on these target areas, we have developed steps to best move forward.

  1. We have been engaging in frequent communication and collaboration with OSOGD and the APA Advocacy office. This collaboration effort increases our resource options, increases our visibility, and increases our voice within the division and within APA broadly.

  2. We are continuing our commitment to ongoing distribution of materials and resources. We are in the process of developing updated fact sheets and corresponding webpages.

  3. We are reconnecting with State, Territorial, and Provincial Associations (STPAs). Connections and communications with our STPAs will allow us to strategically target state and local level policy by providing resources, targeted action items, and amplify the amount of people looking at issues focusing on LGBTQ+ policy efforts.

  4. We are connecting with local grassroots and advocacy organizations to provide evidence-based psychological resources to assist their efforts.

  5. We are in the process of developing a tracking system to effectively and strategically track state and federal level policy, our resources available for each item, and our response and follow up for each item. This will increase our ability to navigate the complex, constantly changing landscape of policy and provide data for us to present to our division at the end of each year. 6. We will be developing a series of webinars focusing on advocacy efforts. These webinars will target specific topics increasing knowledge of policy efforts and how to engage with policy effectively.

As part of the strategic plan, we have engaged in numerous policy activities over the first half of the year. Co-Chairs Michele Schlehofer, PhD, and Christina Patterson, PhD, along with Ron Schlittler of OSOGD and Leo Rennie of the Advocacy office spoke on behalf of Div. 44 and APA to the Civil Rights Office and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs opposing the proposed changes to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. As you may know, unfortunately the current administration moved forward with the proposed changes that we consider harmful to the LGBTQ+ community and to U.S. citizens broadly. Our statement was sent over the Listserv and is available on the division website.

We also sent out our excited support of the Supreme Court decision to prohibit sex discrimination in employment, which now applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This was a collaborative effort of many of our committee members and a copy of our statement is available on the division website.

We look forward to continuing to update you as we proceed through the year. The Public Policy Committee will be hosting a conversation hour at the 2020 APA Convention so be on the lookout for more information in the upcoming weeks.

We look forward to seeing you there.

– Michele Schlehofer and Christina Patterson, committee co-chairs