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NYC Moves to Improve & Reinforce Support Programs For LGBTQ Youth

NYC Moves to Improve & Reinforce Support Programs For LGBTQ Youth

Associated Press

Including promises of healthcare access, shelter expansion, and educational growth. 

It seems not a week goes by without the tragic story of young member of the LGBTQ community being bullied, harassed, or kicked out of their home crosses our social media dashboards. Now, New York City has announced a plan to implement more support for these at-risk individuals, look to the sources of the inequalities that lead to trouble.

Chirlane McCray, wife of NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, announced the NYC Unity Project, a "citywide commitment" yesterday, combining the initiatives and resources of 16 agency partners across the city. In a release, McCray states that LGBTQ youth fares better in NYC than many other places in the country and world, thanks to its mental health services, educational programs, and shelters, but she wants more. "We will work to reach every single young person who identifies as LGBTQ with the services they need to be well," she said, "so no one falls through the cracks."

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The 16 agencies banded together to appraise existing programs and identify improvements that could be made. "We will work collectively to address the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ young people," the statement reads, "Using an approach that recognizes the intersecting oppressions they endure based on color, neighborhood, class, ability, immigration status, language and many other factors."

The project is realistic in its approach to improving the existing infrastructure that already assists LGBTQ youth in the city. In addition to expanding service hours at existing youth drop-in center and upgrading a second center to 24-hour service, the initiative has also placed the establishment of the first-ever LGBTQ shelter for young adults under its umbrella. Earlier this year the NYC Department of Homeless Services opened Marsha's House, named after the famed activist Marsha P. Johnson, which offers shelter to nearly 90 homeless young adults.

Beyond direct support, one of the program's most important facets is expanding education about the health and societal problems LGBTQ can face. With an aim to increase understanding incorporating age-appropriate LGBTQ content into classrooms and training doctors on the needs of at-risk LGBTQ youth. At first glance the plan may sound ambitious, but there's no place better for such ambition than New York City. Read the full Unity Project announcement and breakdown, here.

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Dennis Hinzmann