LGBTQ Rights: CLASSY Awards Top 5

LGBTQ Rights: CLASSY Awards Top 5

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LGBTQ programs fight for an end to bullying, discrimination, hate crimes, harassment and civil inequality based on sexual orientation. View the key indicators of this subcategory here.


All Children–All Families Project
Human Rights Campaign
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING More than 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system need a permanent family. A disproportionate number are LGBT, many of whom have been abandoned by their biological families. Thousands age out of foster care before ever finding a home. Qualified LGBT adults also face barriers in the adoption process due to discriminatory state laws, agency policies, and personal bias in the field. 30% of foster care and adoption agencies don’t welcome LGBT applicants.
All Children-All Families Project
Program Name

United States
Location

2007
Start date

Ellen Kahn
Program Director

@HRC

All Children-All Families (ACAF) promotes LGBT-inclusive policies and practices for foster care and adoption agencies to ensure that LGBT youth have access to safe, affirming, permanent families, and that qualified LGBT individuals and couples do not face bias or discrimination in the process of building a family by foster or adoptive parenting. To do this, ACAF staff engages child welfare agencies in an evaluation of policies and works toward ten Benchmarks of LGBT Cultural Competency. Agencies that meet the benchmarks are designated “Leaders in Supporting and Serving LGBT Youth and Families” and awarded a seal of recognition, which sends a clear, welcoming message to LGBT clients. ACAF’s agency practice-improvement model is based on recommendations in the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’s 2008 report, “Expanding Resources for Waiting Children II: Eliminating Legal & Practice Barriers to Gay & Lesbian Adoption from Foster Care.” ACAF has worked closely with more than 75 agencies nationwide. These agencies range in size, audience and region and have reported high rates of success in reaching the LGBT community and better serving their LGBT youth. ACAF has also built strong partnerships with national leaders, such as the Dave Thomas Foundation, the Child Welfare League of America and the National Association of Social Workers. To date, their program has served nearly 40,000 families. LEARN MORE.

Vulnerable children need someone they can count on. Working with ACAF, we were able to make improvements and provide excellent training to our entire staff. The whole process has made our agency more effective at attracting LGBT parents which means we are doing a better job protecting the children we serve. Nancy Ronquillo, President & CEO, Children’s Home+Aid

 

 

LGBT Asylum Program
Immigration Equality
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING It’s a crime to be gay in 76 countries around the world. In these countries, LGBT people face violence and persecution solely because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression. For those who are able to come to the US to seek safety, the asylum process is difficult to navigate alone. LGBT people who flee violence abroad struggle with winning permanent freedom in the United States.
LGBT Asylum Program
Program Name

United States
Location

1994
Start date

Aaron Morris
Program Director

@IEquality

Immigration Equality operates the nation’s only full-time hotline for LGBT and HIV+ immigrants. Through the LGBT Asylum Program, Immigration Equality represents more than 400 LGBT people fleeing Jamaica, Russia, Uganda and other countries every year. The program matches LGBT and HIV-positive individuals with top law firms, pro bono, and their own 10-person legal team handles the most difficult cases. In addition to this direct representation, they also advocate for broad policy changes to protect and improve conditions for LGBT immigrants. A study from the New York Immigrant Representation Study determined that an immigrant with a lawyer is six times more likely to win their case on the merits versus an immigrant without a lawyer (18% vs. 3%). When an immigrant has access to counsel and is not detained, their chances of success rise to 74%. Since 2004, Immigration Equality has completed 626 cases, providing more than $15 million in free legal services every year. They have a 99% win rate, compared to 55.5% of asylum seekers who win their cases nationwide. Immigration Equality currently has 298 open cases – 20 % of which are handled in-house. The others are taken on by their network of more than 40 law firms. In 2013, pro bono attorneys donated more than 34,000 hours for our LGBT asylum seekers. LEARN MORE.

After my girlfriend in Ghana was murdered, I spent all the money I had to fly to America, and asked for asylum right at JFK airport. I was questioned for hours and put in detention. After 9 days in detention, an attorney at IE, came to visit me. Immigration Equality placed my case for free. My lawyer was a top U.S. attorney and he patiently listened to me and walked me through what my day in court would look like. I was granted asylum on 2/22/12…Two weeks ago I received my employment authorization card and I started school to become a medical assistant. Without Immigration Equality, I literally would not be alive. Nana Ama Owusua, Immigration Equality client

 

 

Safe Schools
One Colorado Education Fund
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING Through bullying, harassment and school push-out, Colorado youth are targeted based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender expression. 63% of Colorado school districts have yet to adopt enumerated anti-bullying policies protecting LGBTQ youth and 68% of Colorado students don’t have access to a Gay-Straight Alliance at their school. Meanwhile, there continues to be educators and administration that are untrained on best practices in creating safe and affirming school environments for these students.
Safe Schools
Program Name

Colorado
Location

2011
Start date

Keri Smith
Program Director

@One_Colorado

To improve the experience of LGBT students in schools, One Colorado Education Fund (OCEF) launched its Safe Schools program. With the goal to continue creating safe, affirming learning environments, they led a statewide coalition to advocate for the adoption of statewide law that protects students from bullying and harassment based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. One Colorado works in collaboration with Colorado GSA Network to ensure that all youth have access to a Gay Straight Alliance, that educators are trained on existing policies and best practices for creating welcoming and affirming school environments, and that school districts continue to adopt and implement comprehensive, enumerated policies protecting LGBTQ youth. According to a survey by GLSEN, students with Gay- Straight Alliances in their school are less likely to feel unsafe than those without a group (54.3% vs. 66.5%). Nearly half of students who had 6+ supportive staff felt unsafe compared to 73.7% with no supportive staff. Since the Safe Schools program’s inception, OCEF has created six resources for students and educators and have distributed thousands of these guides to educators, youth, administrators, parents, and community organizations. Safe Schools has increased the number of registered GSAs to over 180 and trained over 4,000 adults in the field of education. LEARN MORE.

“The Safe Schools program has settled its roots and furthered its reputation as a program invested in growing the number of youth leaders in addition to community engagement…As our schools program expands, efforts on regional and more specific areas of focus such as racial justice, school discipline, advocacy for LGBT educators, and parent engagement needs to be addressed as a means to achieve a truly holistic approach in creating safe and affirming schools for our youth.” Keri Smith, Program Director

 

 

Scout Leadership
Scouts for Equality
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING The Boy Scouts of America introduced its ban on gay members in 1978. That ban withstood many challenges over the decades, and it was even fought to the Supreme Court of the United States. This is a program with millions of members and tens of millions of alumni. Teaching millions of youth, gay or straight, that it’s okay to discriminate is absolutely unconscionable and has no place in Scouting.
Scout Leadership
Program Name

United States
Location

2013
Start date

Zach Wahls
Program Director

@Scouts4Equality

The Boy Scouts of America’s most important asset is not its donor base, membership base, leadership or staff. The Boy Scouts of America’s most important asset is its reputation. As such, Scouts for Equality knew that only way they could go toe-to-toe with the BSA was by taking aim at its reputation in the square of public opinion. Using Change.org petitions, Scouts for Equality called for corporate donors to drop support for the BSA. The campaign brought focused attention to those corporate donors and the impacts of the BSA’s ban on gay youth in the form of more than 1.9 million signatures on the petition and wall-to-wall media coverage, even during the Presidential election. With nearly a million dollars postponed until BSA ended its anti-gay ban, this was a level of pressure the BSA had never faced before. In less than a one year after Scouts for Equality’s formation, the Boy Scouts of America voted to end its ban on gay youth. By successfully ending the BSA’s ban on gay youth, Scouts for Equality successfully teed up ending the ban on gay parents and adults as well. In February 2014, Walt Disney World announced an end to its partnership with the Boy Scouts of America, citing the BSA’s anti-gay ban on adults. LEARN MORE.

Our program was unusual in the sense that we have an exceptionally clear problem we were trying to solve. We were successful in meeting part goal, and we are now moving onto the next problem. Over the long term Scouts for Equality is committed to seeing a strong, vibrant Boy Scouts of America. It is our understanding that, given increased support for LGBTQ rights in America, the BSA has to evolve. Zach Wahls, Executive Director

 

 

National Resource Center on LGBT Aging
Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING LGBT older adults are more likely to be single, without children and estranged from biological family. Having lived through a lifetime of discrimination, many LGBT elders are fearful of accessing care. 43% of respondents in a 2010 survey reported instances of maltreatment in long term care settings. More and more providers are requesting help in properly supporting LGBT older adults & LGBT people are looking for reputable information on long term care planning in the face of unequal benefits.
National Resource Center on LGBT Aging
Program Name

United States
Location

2010
Start date

Hilary Meyer
Program Director

@sageusa

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is the country’s first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender older adults. Established in 2010, the Center provides training, technical assistance and educational resources to aging providers, LGBT organizations and LGBT older adults. Through their cultural-competency training program, they teach service providers how to improve the quality of care for LGBT older adults. Additionally, NRC develops and synthesizes 635 resources through their clearinghouse website. In 2013, NRC reached 28,147 people in 28 states through their website, training and technical assistance combined. More than 70,000 people have downloaded or distributed copies of their best practice guides on LGBT competency. Training results have shown increases in knowledge, skills and attitudes. LEARN MORE.

The NRC’s unique collaborative and multi-faceted approach to improving the lives of LGBT older adults continues to make a dynamic difference. For the first time in our nation’s history, a generation who fought to come out of the closet is learning to trust that they no longer have to retreat back in just to be sure they are treated well as they age. Hilary Meyer, Program Director

 

 

The Human Rights Experts

The Leadership Council is an honorary board comprised of a diverse group of experts that will collectively determine the winners of the CLASSY Awards in this cause sector. Their unique perspective and valuable insight establishes this recognition as one of the highest honors in the social sector.

LC_human- BLOG
 

 

 

Photo credit: SAGE USA

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