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In the summer of 2022, Brianna Hurley was forced to make an unconscionable decision.
Hurley, who is pansexual, had settled into a tiny community near Ft. Worth, Texas, seven years earlier when her husband retired from the Air Force. Although her family’s life didn’t fit into the conservatism of the area’s residents, Hurley said she felt welcome as neighbors and fellow church members invited her child to weekly playdates — until they revealed they were gay and transgender.
“Parents no longer let their children play with mine,” she said. “This child had been a model friend… and now was an outcast. Our church told me that they would have to protect the other children from my child. I realized that everyone in that congregation was teaching their children to hate children like mine.”
Hurley said Texas legislators’ passage of several anti-LGBTQ laws, including one that outlaws gender-affirming care for teens, forced them to move as they feared Child Protective Services would take their son and stop his medical transition. A dramatic shift in the housing market led them to sell their home at a loss.
“We took a huge loss and the move financially wrecked us… We should never have been forced to move because of who my child is,” she said of their move to Colorado. “We tried to stay in the fight but couldn’t risk sacrificing him to cause the hate that this incredible boy experienced for acknowledging his truth.”
LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance President Erin Morrison, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals President Nuria Rivera, Asian Real Estate Association of America CEO Hope Atuel, and WomanUP! Co-founder Sara Sutachan said stories like Hurley’s inspired them to launch Stop Hate in Real Estate, an initiative aimed at arming real estate professionals with the education, training and support needed to serve buyers and sellers from diverse communities and stamp out discrimination within the industry.
“It is unfortunate that the hate, discrimination, and vitriol that is evident today has forced us to create Stop Hate in Real Estate,” Morrison said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “This is the first major initiative that the four major real estate diversity groups have engaged in.”
“We all believe that the overwhelming majority of real estate professionals are anti-hate and anti-discrimination, but their voices have been dwarfed by a vocal minority,” she added. “I truly believe that real estate professionals, as leaders in our communities, can take a leadership role in bringing this period of divisiveness to a close.”
The initiative invites real estate professionals to sign a four-point pledge at stophateinrealestate.org and sign up for updates on upcoming fair housing-focused training and education forums, the first of which is scheduled for Nov. 2.
“Today is just the beginning of the Stop Hate in Real Estate effort. The Alliance, AREAA, NAHREP, and WomanUP! have agreed to give this initiative incredible weight within their organizations,” Morrison said. “[All of us] will showcase how divisiveness, discrimination and hatred are impacting [our] specific communities. From this day forward, we fully acknowledge that an attack on one group is an attack on all of us.”
The group cited a recent poll from Gallup that revealed 69 percent of Americans are unhappy with the state of race relations in the US. Several Pew National Research Center studies backed up Gallup’s findings, with more than 70 percent of Americans recognizing racial, gender and sexual discrimination has a major impact on someone’s ability to secure work and housing.
“We live in 2023. It seems like we’re going backward. It’s simply terrible,” Atuel said. “The Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community has also had to face an uptick in hate crimes and discrimination, and it started with the former [federal] administration using the term ‘China flu’ during the pandemic.”
Atuel said she’s concerned about a string of state laws aimed at banning foreigners from buying property and land in the U.S. The majority of those laws, she said, target nationals from Asian countries under the guise of safeguarding national security.
“Clearly real estate agents and the public will therefore be nervous to be working with us,” she said while highlighting Florida’s recent ban. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg and how these alien land laws and bills are simply just discriminatory.”
Rivera said her community is under a similar attack, as Hispanic and Latino immigrants from Central America, South America and the Caribbean are criminalized and used as the poster children for anti-immigrant legislation.
“The Brookings Institute recently shared that the inundation of anti-immigration TV ads is having a profound impact on our Hispanic community,” she said. “Sixty-seven percent of Hispanics who viewed these ads felt nervous, they felt anxious or scared. Twenty-nine percent said seeing these ads made them feel as though people don’t want [them] here in the United States of America.”
Rivera said discrimination has a direct impact on Hispanic homeownership rates (49%), which are 25.4 percent behind the homeownership rates for non-Hispanic whites (74.4%). “Racism and discrimination are a big reason [why Hispanic homeownership is behind], as much as people like to pretend that it is not,” she said.
Finally, Sutachan spoke on the gender discrimination that female real estate professionals face, despite representing nearly 70 percent of local, state and national real estate association membership. Sutachan said women face the “venom” of discrimination every day, as evidenced by the ongoing fallout from former National Association of Realtors President Kenny Parcell’s alleged sexual misconduct.
“We’ve seen that type of courage in our industry where women have stepped up and come forward with their stories of sexual harassment. These are not one-offs,” she said. “It’s systemic and we… and all of the organizations represented here are committed to breaking down and rooting out discrimination and harassment in our industry. There’s no place for it.”
Morrison said the group is building relationships with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Fair Housing Alliance, NAR, and other organizations to educate professionals and consumers on how to recognize and report discriminatory behavior that violates fair housing guidelines.
They’re also working on making programming available to leaders at the industry’s biggest brokerages, companies and corporations, so they include it in their diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
“We will work to make sure that those in our industry fully understand that our nation was built by the people, for the people and we are created equal with alienable rights that include life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” Morrison said. “When discrimination and hatred of others become louder and more pervasive, we will have to work even harder.”
Email Marian McPherson