Save New York City LGBTQI Youth Shelters



What is the situation?


The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) has decided to slash funding for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex (LGBTQI) runaway and homeless youth shelters in a move that spells disaster for already struggling community-based shelters. Urgent attention to this situation is needed locally, nationally and internationally. We call on the DYCD and the City Council to reverse their recent decisions, and offer adequate funding to these shelters as a human rights and youth welfare priority.

Why should we care internationally?

At least three reasons come to mind:

1. In this time of economic downturn, this trend for cutting programmes and refusing funding requests for the most vulnerable and marginalised in LGBTQI communities sets a dangerous precedent for other cities around the world to follow.

2. Sylvia's Place, along with Bronx Community Pride and Green Chimneys, carries out the still vital work of support needed for LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth in the city which birthed the modern international queer rights movement. Sylvia's Place was founded as a legacy to "Mama" Sylvia Rivera, a key Stonewall Riots veteran, who was a homeless transgender youth herself in 1969. We cannot claim Stonewall as our legacy, then stand by and let down the young LGBTQI people of today who find themselves ostracized and homeless in New York and cities around the world, despite the legal gains of the past 40 years. General homeless shelters are often extremely dangerous for queer youth, as anyone who has worked in the sector is well aware.

3. LGBTQI youth almost always have circumstances related to their sexual orientation or gender identity that have contributed directly to their runaway and homeless status. By neglecting them, we  are complicit in a worldwide culture which abuses the LGBTQI human right to dignity, equality and safety from harm--a culture of abuse felt most keenly in our queer children, teens and young adults.

What can we do?
Please, please sign this petition calling for adequate funding for New York's LGBTQI Youth Shelters, and encourage your friends and affiliated organizations to do the same. International human rights attention will send a powerful message to the City of New York and the world that the international community will not allow the welfare of LGBTQI youths to be sacrificed. This petition will be delivered to New York City Council Members and the Department of Youth and Community Development.

"Every night in New York at least 8,000 kids call the streets home.  Of those children, at least 35-40% are lgbtqi identified, another 10% indicate gender diversity.  Sylvia's Place and Homeless Youth Services at MCCNY is the emergency shelter for Queer kids off the street.  The elimination of funding by DYCD and the refusal to site any reason or allow the City Council access to the awards process is unconscionable.  The kids we serve will be lost to the streets again.  They will lose the roof over their heads, the food sustaining them, the supportive services that keep them alive and often out of jail or worse.  We are marshalling global support for the work of Homeless Youth Services at MCCNY because we believe we are global citizens and the youth we serve represent the future for all of us.  Throw them away, and you throw our very humanity away," writes The Reverend Pat Bumgardner.

This petition is posted by International Friends of Sylvia's Place with the consent of the Rev. Pat Bumgardner and the staff of Sylvia's Place. Rev. Pat, as most of you know, has been a tireless friend to many struggling for international rights, inclusion and justice for LGBTQI people. She co-ordinates the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches' Global Justice Team, and is the Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York (MCCNY), the sponsoring organisation of Sylvia's Place and MCCNY Homeless Youth Services, a registered charity.

If you would like more information on these programmes, please go to http://www.homelessyouthservices.org/
We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, urgently request that the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development reconsider the recent funding cuts and refused grants for community-based Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) Homeless and Runaway Shelters. Sylvia's Place, an initiative of Metropolitan Community Church of New York Homeless Youth Services, Bronx Community Pride, and Green Chimneys LGBT Services offer scarce and invaluable humanitarian care to vulnerable LGBTQI youth sleeping rough in the city many in our international community have until now viewed as a model of progress and compassion for the disenfranchised. The city which birthed the modern international LGBTQI rights movement at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 must not turn its back on the youth of today.

LGBTQI runaway and homeless youth almost always have circumstances related to their sexual orientation or gender identity which have led to their destitute situation. It is common knowledge in organisations working with this population that general city shelters are often extremely dangerous for vulnerable LGBTQI youth. Your decision in New York to reduce funding to unsustainable levels for community-based shelters serving a sector of youths disproportionately represented in your overall homeless population sets a dangerous precedent for cities throughout the world in this time of economic downturn. Such a decision sends the message that LGBTQI vulnerable youths are undervalued and expendable in a world where many of us still struggle for the basic human right to safety, shelter, and equal worth.

We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to give prompt attention to adequately funding LGBTQI Youth Shelters and Services in New York City.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
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