New York City will open a drop-in shelter for LGTBQ youth as part of a $4.8 million initiative to expand services for gay and gender-noncomforming kids and teens.
The vast multiagency initiative will help coordinate efforts between 16 city agencies to support LGBTQ youth, who often have a greater need for city services across a number of different categories. The initiative, known as the NYC Unity Project, will require every city school to have single occupancy restrooms available by January, among other measures.
NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray announced the new project on Tuesday at the historic Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in the heart of the West Village.
The project aims to link city agencies to better support LGBTQ youth, who are more likely to be homeless, suffer from mental illness and experience sexual violence than their straight peers, according to a number of different studies and datasets.
In New York City, two in five transgender youth report having made a suicide attempt in the last year, according to city data. Health department data shows that high schools students who are gay, bisexual or unsure about their sexuality identify were twice as likely to use illegal drugs than their straight peers in city high schools.
"Data details the mental health challenges faced by LGBTQ youth, including stress, bullying and depression, and attempted suicide," the city's health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement. "Working together with LGBTQ youth, parents, faith leaders, community-based organizations and others, we can address the root causes of inequity by ending homophobia, transphobia, racism and other structural barriers."
In addition to the new drop-in center, which will open in Jamaica, Queens next month, the project will also train and certify more than 500 city physicians to better treat LGBTQ children. It will also fund seven community coalitions that will target alcohol and substance misuse.
The services include under the NYC Unity Project will be available to all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, McCray said on Tuesday."