State of the Community Report and Vision Statement

Dear Friend,

The last 2 ½ years has presented great challenges and I am proud to report that the LGBT Network responded and thrived with great success because of your support.  Recently we shared our Impact Report for FY2020 and FY2021, and highlighted some our successes, new initiatives in response to our changing times and a few major and bold achievements.  Thank you to all who helped us survive and thrive and meet the growing and changing needs of our families and communities!  We’ve never been stronger.   

Throughout our almost three decades of service to the community, we have not only been able to address and meet current needs head on, but also forecast the challenges that lie ahead. I have to be frank and direct and share that we are more concerned than ever before that our rights, our representation, and our visible displays of pride are in danger and on the chopping block. Quite simply put, we are under attack in ways that I have not seen in the 29 years that the LGBT Network has been providing the services, advocacy, and leadership on behalf of our community. We have seen the damaging, hateful, and perhaps unlawful “Don’t Say Gay” policy go into effect in Florida and many other anti-LGBT bills pass in dozens of states.

But it’s not just Florida or ‘red’ states where these attacks on us and our families are taking place; it’s happening right here at home in our backyards, towns, schools, and libraries in Long Island and Queens. Anti-LGBT and right wing extremist groups are organizing and working to remove LGBT content, education, and programs from our libraries and schools and have set the bullseye on the LGBT Network’s anti-bullying workshops and also  “Drag Queen Story Hour.”  These dangerous hate groups are not hiding anymore; they are emboldened and out of the closet unapologetically attacking our LGBT youth.

But just like we have done for 29 years, we have a plan to attack these latest threats to our freedoms, safety, and being with a new bold plan and we need your help more than ever before.We will not be put back in the closet – not today, not tomorrow, not ever. 

In 2023, the LGBT Network will celebrate its 30th Anniversary of serving and advocating for the LGBT community! It is both an exciting and challenging time and we want to share with you our plans and vision as we prepare to double-down on smart, strategic, and long-term efforts to create and sustain the changes needed for safer spaces for LGBT people and families more than we have ever done before.

With our Vision Statementwe are re-invigorating our commitment to the LGBT Network ethos: In order to fully support the LGBT community and to address and tackle oppression, bullying, discrimination, stigma, and violence, we must also work to change the environments in which LGBT people live, learn, work, play, and pray.  While we work to support LGBT people through direct services, we must simultaneously work to improve and change the world around them.  This framework has driven and defined who the LGBT Network is and our approach for nearly three decades. 

For our entire history as LGBT people, we have fought to be seen, heard, represented, and understood – nothing has been handed to us; we have won what should be a given with hard work, grit, and determination. Our work continues to strive to just be – to be safe, to be free, to be equal, and to belong. 

To address the urgent needs of our LGBT community and families, I am proud to present to you the LGBT Network


#1. Ensure and Expand LGBT representation and visibility in our schools, libraries, and communities.

Our fight for safety, equity, justice and inclusion is not a sprint – it is a marathon and we need to run like we never have before. The pushback on our visibility and being is here and it’s real, and we need to fight harder, smarter and stronger.  We must not allow right wing extremists who are organizing, showing up, and getting elected to local school and library boards to set the agenda. That’s why long-term strategies to build our visibility, safety, and our representation are vital, so that the voices for freedom, equality, and equity are heard and policies are implemented to support these values. With your support, the LGBT Network is going to:

>> Read our “Back To School Letter” here!


#2. Give every LGBT person and family access to LGBT-affirming and competent mental health services such as counseling, crisis intervention, and referrals.

Coping with the oppression, bullying, stigma, harassment, discrimination, and violence as an LGBT person takes a toll on one’s mental health.  The impact of COVID has only exacerbated this need, and new threats to our safety and equality are increasing peoples stress and anxiety.  The LGBT Network has been offering mental health counseling for more than 25 years, however we’ve never been able to meet the full need by offering the service at each of our centers, and we always have a waiting list. We need the ability to offer more counseling in more locations to help more people cope while we simultaneously work to change the environments, schools and communities they live in.  Our vision is to offer our mental health services at each of our four community centers as well as enhancing these services offered virtually. 

  • Expand and scale mental health services delivered in-person to each of our community centers.  
  • Enhance delivery of virtual mental health services that reduces barriers to obtaining help and support. 

#3. Economic Development: Grow a business and service community that is LGBT-inclusive.

LGBT people spend a third of their life at work, yet more than 40% of LGBT people are not out at work.  The unemployment rate among transgender people is three times the national average.  LGBT people interact with organizations and other public services including healthcare regularly.  However, 42% of LGBT people locally avoid seeking healthcare for fear of being stigmatized and discriminated against.  LGBT small business owners often don’t have access to the same resources due to discrimination and inclusive networking opportunities.  LGBT people need to feel safe to be their true, authentic selves at work.  LGBT people, and especially transgender people, need to know they have an equal and fair chance at employment.  LGBT-owned businesses need support, too, to start and grow into successful businesses to attain economic equality.  To achieve these goals, the LGBT Network is going to:


#4 Build community by expanding social and cultural arts programs and services

For nearly 30 years, the LGBT Network has been building and fostering opportunities for people to connect, especially for youth and older adults. In recent years, we’ve further expanded group programs for LGBT-headed families, for transgender-identified people, for LGBT people of color, and for Latinx people who mostly or always speak Spanish.  Our virtual programs introduced new connections, too.  However, we know LGBT people are seeking more opportunities to unite and build community.  To meet these needs of the LGBT community, the LGBT Network seeks to:

  • Launch new social and cultural programs, including art exhibits, author talks, book readings, musicians, and more! (Take our Survey to share what interests you!)
  • Sustain our virtual group programs that have provided access to hundreds of LGBT people who otherwise would not socialization and support

Our plan works to target every aspect of life for our community to provide the necessary and needed support, visibility, advocacy, and hard work that to achieve a world where we can just be and belong without any barriers. To achieve and roll-out these bold steps in changing the landscape community by community and school by school, we need your support and the support of everyone in our Long Island and NYC community to succeed together. 

Please consider a gift now to the LGBT Network. We need your help more than ever and everyone’s help and support to take on the right wing extreme groups that are organizing and attacking our kids and families. No one can out-organize our community when we put our minds and resources toward these goals. This is not an overnight solution and we are presenting a plan for long-term and sustained change. We need your support to tackle these urgent challenges before us and ensure that we are protected and seen and heard at every level of community life and government.  

The LGBT Network has a range of opportunities for personal and professional giving:

To learn more about making a gift and having an impact on help meet the plan for belonging, freedom, safety, and pride, please contact our Development Department at 631-665-2300 or via e-mail at development@lgbtnetwork.org.  

It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve the LGBT community for 29 years, and we look forward to continuing the fight to achieve the freedom and belonging we deserve together. I would be happy to talk with you individually in more detail about the needs of our communities and our plans. We need your help and support to make them a reality and I urge you to consider making a gift of any size today so that we can touch the lives of more LGBT people in more ways this year and create the change in our communities that is needed more than ever before.  

Thank you and I hope you will join with us as we work together to achieve our bold plan for belonging, freedom safety, and pride!

Back To School 2022 Appeal: Give to Support LGBT Youth

Dear Community Member, 

LGBT youth are under attack in our country, and they need your help.

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill has launched a national resurgence of anti-LGBT rhetoric and it’s manifesting in a severe and pervasive movement to erase LGBT people, images, conversations, and history from our schools.  And this resurgence is gaining momentum and it’s happening here in our local communities.

LGBT Network is responding and that’s why we need your help.  We need to take action and fight back.

LGBT Network galvanized local parents and allies this June when the Smithtown Public Library voted to remove Pride displays from all of their libraries and LGBT-themed books from all of their children’s sections.  Their decision was met with great disdain from LGBT people and allies, and within 48 hours they reversed their decision.  However, the line was drawn in the sand and it mobilized anti-LGBT opponents, including the Proud Boys and the Long Island Loud Majority.  At the following two in-person meetings of the Smithtown Public Library, these anti-LGBT groups arrived in droves to stave-off our advocacy.  Their words of opposition are among some of the worst we’ve heard in years:

“They are indoctrinating our youth into their lifestyle.”

“Get these books out of our libraries – they are sexualizing our kids.”

“These books are pornography and they have no right in our libraries.”

Other opponents went on cite religious beliefs as a claim to have LGBT-themed books removed from the children’s section of the libraries – books that highlight families with two same-gender parents and books that discuss how a young person may feel about their gender.   This anti-LGBT rhetoric is growing roots and spawning into our schools, too.  

These anti-LGBT groups are digging-their-heels-in!  That’s why we need to respond and do more to protect and support LGBT youth.  And we need new approaches to achieve the type of long-term systemic change that our kids and families deserve.

The LGBT Network is mobilizing to take back our schools, libraries, and communities from these hateful opponents of LGBT visibility and representation.  We need your help and support to grow and sustain strategies for LGBT inclusion and equity as the new school year launches.  Because this is just the beginning.  

I’m sure you’ve seen it in the news, too: There is a national conversation about gender and sexuality in our schools that is erupting.  The situation with the Smithtown Public Library is merely a window into what is taking place – a national mobilization and assault on LGBT people. That’s why a gift from you today is going to help.

There are four strategies to ensure our LGBT youth remain safe, supported, and represented in our schools and communities: 

·      We will continue delivering our anti-bullying programs in school classrooms and training of school staff as we have been doing for nearly three decades to address and prevent the bullying of LGBT youth

·      We will grow our Coming Out Day Campaign in as many schools as possible, which provides free rainbow and trans ribbon to build the visibility of the needs of LGBT youth

·      We will launch a new School Ambassadorship Program to ensure we have parents and other community members representing every school district in Long Island and Queens to speak-up and change the narrative and create permanent and sustainable change!

·      A new Leadership Academy to train people to run and win for both School Board and Library Board seats to that they can be the voice for equality, equity, safety, visibility and opportunity on our school and library boards! We need the real majority to be the voice for our youth and families!

Please make a donation today to ensure that LGBT youth are not stuffed back into the closet by this hateful opposition.  Your gift will counter bullying, grow visibility, and launch two new initiatives that will help LGBT people and allies gain a fair share and fair voice in supporting LGBT youth.

·      $45 will provide on school with a complete “Coming Out Day Campaign Organizing Kit,” with hundreds of rainbow and trans ribbon, posters, information cards, Safe Space Stickers, and an Organizing Manual that includes guidance about how to counter discrimination 

·      $75 Trains one parent or community member to take action and counter anti-LGBT activity in local schools and school districts through our School Ambassadorship program 

·      $125 Prepares one person to run for School Board or Library Board in their community so that they can provide fair and equitable representation for LGBT youth 

·      $250 Provides anti-bullying education for ten (10) students in a local school

Please make a gift today.  Every dollar counts in stopping this wave of anti-LGBT hate.  Thank you for your consideration of helping our LGBT youth.  

Sincerely, 

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David Kilmnick, PhD

President & Founder 

Please donate by October 1st to create safer schools for LGBT youth! 100% of your contribution is tax-deductible.

IMPACT REPORT RELEASED

Special Report Showcases Community Impact

The LGBT Network is proud to release its Impact Report, a combined Annual Report for FY2020 and FY2021.   This Impact Report highlights the organization’s service delivery and greatest achievements from the time period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021.  The LGBT Network extends its warmest thanks and gratitude to all of the individuals and institutions that provided financial support to the organization during this time and ensure that our vital and life-saving programs and services continued uninterrupted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Impact Report can be found here.


FY 2022 HIGHLIGHTS 
Coming Back Stronger Than Ever

Convened 150 LGBT parents and their kids for our 2nd LGBT Families Expo at LGBT Network Hauppauge Center!  Families enjoyed a bounce house, community organizations and vendors, and Drag Queen Story Hour!

United nearly 700 youth at Citi Field for annual LGBT Youth Conference!  After kicking-off the day with a “We Say Gay” rally, youth attended sessions about becoming local leaders in their schools and communities. 

More than 300 donors came together for the LGBT Network’s Hamptons Summer Kick-Off ever, with more people, more sponsorships, more ticket sales, and the most money ever raised from the event – thank you to all!  “Wall of Hate” impact video premiered at the event.

For the first time, the LGBT Network organized the New Queens Pride in Jackson Heights to celebrate the event’s 30th anniversary, bringing together tens of thousands for an incredible parade followed by an unforgettable festival with non-stop community entertainment!

Thousands celebrated Long Island Pride in the Village of Farmingdale for the first time ever!  Businesses and organizations marched in the Parade down Main Street to the Market Fair, and a street concert thumped with throwback icons including Ultra Nate and TKA!

In response to the assault of LGBT people in our schools, libraries, and communities, the LGBT Network launched two new advocacy initiatives to achieve long-term systemic change with a Candidate Training Academy, as well a School District Ambassador program.

Throughout the month of July, the LGBT Network served as a voice and advocate for members of the LGBT community disproportionately impacted by Monkeypox and calling for increased prevention and increased access to vaccines. Keeping the community informed with our Monkeypox Virus Update web page.

The LGBT Network launched the Long Island LGBT Chamber of Commerce to unite Long Island businesses in support of LGBT-owned small businesses.  At the same time, the organization introduced its “LGBT Network Certified” program to recognize companies for their LGBT diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) efforts.


DIGNITY MEMORIAL GIVES $10,000 TO LGBT NETWORK
Company becomes New Corporate Partner

LGBT Network is proud to announce that Dignity Memorial has become a Corporate Partner with a $10,000 gift to the organization. The gift includes support for key initiatives of the LGBT Network in alignment with the organizations mission to help LGBT people to be themselves, stay healthy, and change the world.

This gift is supporting key LGBT Network initiatives including the Workplace Initiative, Long Island Pride, Job Fair, Business Directory, and the Long Island LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Dignity Memorial has 15 community-centric locations around Long Island, and over 1900 nationwide. With dedicated professionals who strive to be active educators and facilitators, to further the idea that every individual deserves to be celebrated in a way that is appropriate for themselves, no matter how understated or fabulous, they are devoted to celebrating lives well lived.

“The LGBT Network is proud to have Dignity Memorial as a Partner,” shares Robert Vitelli, Executive VP/COO of LGBT Network. “They are revolutionizing their industry to provide meaningful, unique, and innovative ways to celebrate, remember, and send-off loved ones. They have a demonstrated commitment to serving the LGBT community, as well as efforts to recruit and hire LGBT people as newcomers to their evolving industry.”

About LGBT Network

The LGBT Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is a home and a voice for the LGBT people, their families, and support systems.  Our centers help LGBT people to be themselves, stay healthy, and change the world.  Since 1993, LGBT Network has been pioneering advocacy and social change to create safe spaces where LGBT people live, learn, work, play, and pray.

About Dignity Memorial

Through personalized funerals and thoughtful memorials, Dignity Memorial providers celebrate each life like no other..  Learn more about Dignity Memorial at https://www.dignitymemorial.com/

READ NEWSDAY: Raising Monkeypox Awareness to Slow its Spread

The action team “is made up of our community on Long Island,” Kilmnick said. “And that action team will do some of what we’re doing today … We’re going to take ownership in making sure our community gets the information, gets the resources and gets the support that we need.”

“We heard that people say we need the vaccine here at the center,” Kilmnick said. “We need to create safer spaces and community spaces to be able to deal with the disease and get out ahead of it.” 

WATCH FOX5: Monkeypox Outbreak in New York

Play Video

LGBT Network President David Kilmnick live interview on FOX5 New York 6pm newscast with anchor Lori Stokes discussing the latest developments on Monkeypox and needs of the LGBTQ communities in New York.