New York City is well-known as one of the most accepting places for LGBTQ people, but even in a place as rainbow-friendly as NYC, there are still gaps in resources and support for queer and gender non-conforming people. In an effort to build a bridge over some of those gaps, NYC's first lady, Chirlane McCray, announced Tuesday a $4.8 million plan for 16 city agencies to come together and identify and fix the ways in which New York isn't protecting LGBTQ youth — including plans to open a new drop-in shelter, Patch reports.
As part of the initiative, known as the NYC Unity Project, the city will attempt to: improve current drop-in centers, expand youth shelter services, make sex ed more inclusive of LGBTQ people, offer trainings for parents and families, and train more health professionals about the needs of transgender kids.
The city has already committed to expanding gender-neutral bathrooms in NYC public schools, requiring all schools to have at least one gender-neutral restroom by January 2018. Additionally, the city has also required that school staff call transgender students who have publicly transitioned by their proper pronouns and new name.
"With considerable new resources and a comprehensive, community-centered approach, we will break down the cultural and social barriers that hold LGBTQ youth back," McCray wrote in a letter shared with Refinery29."We will work to reach every single young person who identifies as LGBTQ with the services they need to be well, so no one falls through the cracks. And even as the Federal Government undermines key protections and supports for these vulnerable young people, we will expand and strengthen them."
As McCray — who has an impressive history as an LGBTQ activist — writes in her letter, LGBTQ youth whose families are not supportive of their identities are at risk for homelessness, they are also more likely to be subject to dating violence and bullying, and are more likely than their straight and cisgender peers to attempt suicide.
The NYC Unity Project aims to counteract some of the biases and risks queer and gender non-conforming youth face, even in such a progressive city.
"We will make sure that all of our city’s young people – regardless of who they love or how they express their identity – can be safe, supported and healthy as they proudly call New York City home," McCray wrote.
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