Driven by a shared commitment to ensuring all people are treated with dignity and respect, this collaboration will first establish a pilot cohort of Ys that will develop and implement locally focused strategies designed to engage and support LGBTQ individuals and their families. These strategies may include staff training; member outreach and engagement; program innovation for LGBTQ youth, adults, seniors and families; and community collaborations. In following years, the best practices and tools developed by the cohort will be scaled to reach Ys nationwide.
This new initiative is made possible thanks to generous funding by the Gill Foundation and the David Bohnett Foundation. The Biden Foundation and Y-USA will provide technical support and strategic guidance to Ys, and the initiative will be supported by a Biden Fellow and a new Y-USA staff position dedicated to LGBTQ inclusion.
“The Biden Foundation is committed to changing our culture so that everyone, including LGBTQ people, feel supported and affirmed,” said Louisa Terrell, Executive Director of the Biden Foundation. “We could not ask for better partners in this work than YMCA of the USA, with its history, reach, and impact in communities across America. The Gill Foundation, which has supported innovative strategies to advance LGBTQ equal treatment for decades; and the David Bohnett Foundation, which has invested significant resources in supporting and empowering local LGBTQ communities are equally powerful partners in this work.”
“The Y is committed to addressing critical social issues and helping all people reach their full potential with dignity and respect,” said Kevin Washington, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “Our commitment is rooted in our inclusive mission and our belief that communities are stronger when everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Supporting the well-being and safety of LGBTQ youth and adults is an important need in our communities, and we are proud to partner with the Biden Foundation, Gill Foundation and David Bohnett Foundation to support it.”
“Despite tremendous progress over the last decade, LGBTQ individuals and families continue to face discrimination and challenges at work, in their communities and schools, and even within their own families,” said Scott Miller, Co-Chair of the Gill Foundation. “We are grateful for Vice President and Dr. Biden’s leadership to promote inclusion through their foundation and to have the opportunity to work closely with YMCA of the USA.”
“The most direct way to support families and members of the LGBTQ communities is by being on the ground with them,” said David Bohnett, Founder and Chair of the David Bohnett Foundation. “We are proud to support this historic effort to ensure all our young people, families, and seniors are supported and affirmed where they live.”
This effort is part of the Y’s longstanding commitment to engage and serve all segments of society, build bridges between communities and advance social inclusion and equity for all. Y-USA is the national resource office for the 2,700 YMCAs serving more than 13 million adults and 9 million children annually in 10,000 communities nationwide.
Despite tremendous progress over the last several years in the fight for equality, significant challenges remain for LGBTQ people today. No federal law explicitly protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, or public accommodations – and 31 states still lack full statewide nondiscrimination protections. LGBTQ youth struggle with family rejection, bullying in the classroom, and harassment in their communities. And LGBTQ people and families continue to experience disproportionately high rates of poverty, uninsurance, food insecurity and hate violence.