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 Statement, we 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:
- Expand and Continue Anti-Bullying Programs in schools to build understanding with future generations and to stop bullying
- Sustain our Coming Out Day Campaign so that LGBT people and their allies can locally organize and mobilize to build visibility (Sign-up your institution to receive a free Coming Out Campaign Kit here!)
- NEW: Launch our School Ambassador Program to engage parents and other community members to represent every school district in Long Island and Queens to speak-up and change the narrative for LGBT youth in our schools (Join here)
- NEW: Launch our Leadership Training Academy to recruit and 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 in our local communities! (Join 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:
- Continue to grow our Workplace Initiative through our corporate LGBT education programs so that our workplaces are LGBT-affirming and provide opportunities for talent mobility
- Build and grow the newly launched Long Island LGBT Chamber of Commerce providing LGBT-inclusive networking and uniting the entire Long Island business community (read the full announcement about the Chamber here)
- Expand the new LGBT Network Certified program that benchmarks how businesses and organizations are prioritizing LGBT diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) efforts and creating safer spaces so that LGBT people can utilize the institutions that support them.
#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:
- Make a Donation of any size
- Give to our Back To School Appeal to support our Safe Schools efforts!
- Join as a Member with a monthly gift of just $33.33
- Become a Hero Major Donor with an annual gift of $1,200
- Have your company or organization become a Sponsor or Partner
- Make a bigger, more targeted impact with our new Donor Collectives program, a focused giving program with other like-minded people who make a meaningful pledge to advance pressing and urgent program needs – you give and fulfill your pledge when we’ve received enough pledges to achieve our goal!
- Room Naming Opportunities for our Hauppauge Center and new Bay Shore Center (inquire to learn more!)
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 email@example.com.
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!