Governor Cuomo: "It is undeniable that a disproportionate number of LGBT kids end up in the care of homeless organizations because their families refused to accept them for who they are. That's why it's common sense to ensure the adults who care for these young people every day are equipped with the tools and information they need to understand issues specific to LGBT youth. I'm especially proud to sign this measure into law on National Coming Out Day and once again demonstrate to the LGBT community that New York State has their back."
On National Coming Out Day, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation (S.1481A/A.3619) requiring organizations that care for homeless youth to complete LGBT competency training. Under the new law, all employees of programs and organizations in New York State that provide care to runaway or homeless youth will need to undergo training on the needs and issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, with particular emphasis on using the correct terminology when talking about gender identity and sexual orientation, addressing homophobia and transphobia from other youth in shelters, and supporting the families of LGBT youth.
"It is undeniable that a disproportionate number of LGBT kids end up in the care of homeless organizations because their families refused to accept them for who they are," Governor Cuomo said. "That's why it's common sense to ensure the adults who care for these young people every day are equipped with the tools and information they need to understand issues specific to LGBT youth. I'm especially proud to sign this measure into law on National Coming Out Day and once again demonstrate to the LGBT community that New York State has their back."
Senator Brad Hoylman said, "It's National Coming Out Day, which is an appropriate time to take action to help our homeless LGBTQ youth. Nearly 40% of young people in homeless or runaway youth shelters identify as LGBTQ. In fact, LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as their peers to experience homelessness. Therefore, it's essential that our shelter system be equipped to handle the distinct challenges these youth face. With this new law, providers of runaway and homeless youth services across the state will finally have the tools they need to serve LGBTQ kids with the dignity and compassion they deserve. I'm grateful to Governor Andrew Cuomo, a longtime champion of the LGBTQ community, for signing this important bill into law, along with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and my Senate colleagues for their steadfast support of LGBTQ rights, as well as the Assembly sponsor, Felix Ortiz."
Assembly Member Felix Ortiz said, "Runaway and homeless youth have unique problems needing special attention. Governor Cuomo's approval of my legislation to require special training for employees who work with LGBTQ youth represents a major step forward. We must help those who are vulnerable and protect them."
Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "Sadly, LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately represented in runaway and homeless youth shelters. This measure codifies the practice of local runaway and homeless youth programs in creating an affirming and supportive environment, by focusing on the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ youth community. I commend Governor Cuomo for signing this into law for this highly vulnerable population of New Yorkers."
According to the Center for American Progress, between 20 and 40 percent of runaway or homeless youth in the United States are LGBT, as compared to only 5 to 10 percent of the overall youth population. LGBT youth often find themselves homeless because parents do not accept their sexual orientation or gender identity. This rejection from families leads to increased mental health issues, including dramatically increased rates of alcohol abuse and suicide attempts. The average age that a lesbian or gay youth becomes homeless in New York is 14.4 years old, while the average age a transgender youth becomes homeless in New York is 13.5 years old. LGBT youth are also much more likely to drop out of school due to discrimination.
Throughout his administration, Governor Cuomo has been a champion of LGBT rights, most notably passing the Marriage Equality Act in 2011. In January of this year, the Governor signed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, prohibiting employers, educational institutions, landlords, creditors, and others from discriminating against individuals on the basis of gender identity or expression, and making offenses committed on the basis of gender identity or expression hate crimes under New York State law. This past January the Governor also signed legislation banning the discredited practice of so-called LGBT conversion therapy.
In June of this year, Governor Cuomo signed legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense, which allowed those accused of violent crimes against LGBT people to receive a lesser sentence, and in some cases, avoid conviction, by placing the blame on a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.
In June 2018, in anticipation of the potential rollback of critical Affordable Care Act provisions, the Governor directed the Department of Health to issue regulations prohibiting health care providers from discriminating against transgender patients, and directed the Department of Financial Services to issue regulations expanding anti-discrimination protections for transgender individuals when accessing health insurance.