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Projects, Units & Initiatives

LGBTQ+ Law and Policy Unit

The LGBTQ+ Law and Policy Unit seeks to create, support, and sustain affirming and safer spaces, practices and policies for LGBTQ+ clients and staff within the organization and throughout New York City and New York State. Unit staff provide trainings on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to Legal Aid Society staff and are active in City and State legislative and policy reform efforts, coalition building, and public education through Know Your Rights and other presentations.

The Unit also litigates issues that impact the lives of many LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. Whether it was the hard-fought victories to secure the right of transgender individuals, including youth, to receive Medicaid coverage for needed health treatments, or the ongoing fight to end police profiling of transgender women of color and the criminalization of LGBTQ+ identities, the LGBTQ+ Unit is ready to assist our clients in advancing liberation against state oppression.

COVID-19 Response

The Unit’s work is driven by the recognition that LGBTQ+ New Yorkers, particularly those from communities of color, live at the intersection of multiple systems of oppression. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified these inequalities, bringing new challenges to New Yorkers ranging from homelessness, lack of access to benefits and resources, and exacerbation of already dangerous conditions in jails and prisons. The Unit is actively working to assist TGNCNB New Yorkers who are vulnerable to COVID in the state prisons and to connect them with reentry services when they return home.

Partnerships

The LGBTQ+ Law and Policy Unit believes that community partnerships and community service organization coalitions are essential to the advancement of LGBTQ and racial equity.

The LGBTQ+ Unit is a member of The New York State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health and Human Services Network (The Network). The Network is a coalition of over 50 programs and organizations across New York State that work to improve health outcomes for all members of the LGBT community. Through our work with The Network we are connected to important NYC and NYS resources and service providers to better connect our clients to vital support.

The NYC LGBTQI / ATI Reentry Working Group is a coalition of advocates working to increase and expand crucial reentry supports specifically for justice-involved LGBTQI people in New York City. This group’s grassroots community work is a vital to bridge the gap of missing reentry support. The NYC LGBTQI / ATI Reentry Working Group’s work helps the Unit connect our mistreated and ignored TGNCNC clients to life preserving information and services.

The LGBTQ+ Unit is a member of Equality New York EQNY, which is a statewide advocacy organization working to advance equality and justice for LGBTQI New Yorkers and their families. Through powerful social media campaigns, lobbying, and community organizing EQNY is champion​ for LGBTQ people’s rights.

In addition to external partnerships the LGBTQ+ Unit organizes and facilities internal working groups to connect various staff at the Legal Aid Society. Through these working groups the wealth of knowledge and experiences of our staff in different units and practices is shared. These groups are able to discuss patterns of LGBTQ+ and racial discrimination and create projects to address client issues.