Centering All Families: Securing Paid Leave for Workers in the South and Their Chosen Family

We were excited to highlight the importance of inclusive paid leave policies in the South at the 2024 National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference.

Earlier this month, A Better Balance was excited to join our partners at the Louisiana Budget Project and Lift Louisiana to discuss the importance of inclusive paid leave policies in the South at the 2024 National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference hosted in New Orleans, Louisiana. As we have highlighted via the national This Is My Family campaign, families are not one size fits all and our laws shouldn’t be either. Over the past decade, there has been growing momentum to advance supportive work-family policies on the state and local level that recognize and protect all workers, especially LGBTQ workers. Due to cultural, economic, and social forces, the overwhelming majority of households today depart from the “nuclear family” model of a married couple and their biological children—instead, they are blended, and include extended relatives, domestic partners, and close loved ones who aren’t biologically or legally related. Policies with inclusive definitions of family are especially important for young workers, helping to ensure the workforce of today and tomorrow can thrive. As we continue to advocate for paid family and medical leave on the federal, state, and local level, it is critical to recognize all of the diverse, beautiful, loving relationships that transcend the United States’ normative definition of “family,” and ensure that everyone can take the time we need to care for ourselves and our chosen families without risking our economic security.

At the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference, A Better Balance, the Louisiana Budget Project, and Lift Louisiana, presented to advocates from across the country on the growing momentum for paid leave policies in the South, and the power of uplifting worker voices. Over the past several years, Louisiana’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) Coalition has been able to successfully secure state funding for an actuarial study focused on the cost analysis of a statewide PFML program, advocated for an inclusive, comprehensive PFML bill during the 2023 legislative session, and helped secure paid parental leave for Louisiana state employees. Along with highlighting strategies for building and maintaining a strong and diverse coalition, our presentation highlighted the need for inclusive family definitions in a post-Roe world where more and more Southern birthing folks are in need of paid leave to care for their health. 

A Better Balance was honored to create a sense of community and hope in this workshop. Hearing personal stories from those who lack access to necessary policies like paid family and medical leave reinforces the need for expanding definitions that are inclusive of all families. When all workers can take the time they need to attend to their health needs or those of a loved one, it creates a more equitable society for workers and caregivers.

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