The Importance of the Emergency Broadband Benefit for the LGBT Community
In May 2021 the Federal Communications Commission launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program offering up to $50 a month towards household broadband service, and up to $75 for those on tribal lands. As of mid November there are over 7.6 million households signed up for the Emergency Broadband Benefit. This program has been helpful for those struggling to afford broadband service, including the LGBTQ+ community.
PowerOn understands that the LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately affected by the digital divide, now more than ever during the pandemic. Those without access to reliable internet or devices have been left without access to school, work, and necessary services. This has been especially impactful for LGBTQ+ individuals, many of whom lost access to LGBTQ+ community centers that they normally rely on for informed care, information, and safe space. Many LGBTQ+ individuals who do not have access to basic broadband were isolated from these spaces and services as everything transitioned online during the pandemic.
“[Internet access] is just what I need to function in society at this point.” -LGBT EBB recipient
LGBT Tech and PowerOn have encouraged our partner centers to spread the word about EBB and hosted a webinar in June to provide an overview of the signup process and eligibility requirements. We also created a page on our website with resources, links, and other helpful program information. You can see this page here.
In keeping with the spirit of the PowerOn program and LGBT Tech’s efforts to support and inform all our work with research, we conducted a few interviews with members of the LGBTQ+ community who have been utilizing EBB. We shared the feedback and insight we gathered, both positive and negative, with FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s office.
The success of the EBB program clearly shows a need for a continued benefit program to offset the cost of broadband service. This would be enormously beneficial to millions of low-income and marginalized communities, including many of our LGBTQ community members.
LGBT Tech and PowerOn will continue to work closely with lawmakers and federal agencies to ensure the LGBTQ+ community’s voice is heard on matters such as a permanent broadband benefit.
To learn more about how internet and technology access makes a difference for the LGBTQ+ community, take a look at our 2020 PowerOn Impact Report.