A rainbow Pride flag waving in the wind
July 2, 2024

Governor Hochul Announces $5.4 Million Investment in LGBTQ+ Community

Governor Hochul Announces $5.4 Million Investment in LGBTQ+ Community

$4.4 Million Investment in Harlem SGL•LGBTQ Center to Build Safe and Culturally Affirming Programs

$1 Million for Workforce Development Programs for Organizations That Serve Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Non-Binary People

New Policy Guidance and Efforts To Help State Agencies Better Serve LGBTQ+ New Yorkers and Create an Inclusive Workplace

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a $5.4 million investment in the LGBTQ+ community in New York. The Harlem SGL•LGBTQ Center will receive $4.4 million to build safe and culturally affirming programs and services for LGBTQ+ residents, particularly LGBTQ+ people of color. Governor Hochul also announced a $1 million investment will be made available for workforce development programs for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people, once again expanding the Lorena Borjas Transgender and Non-Binary Wellness and Equity Fund. Governor Hochul also announced new policy guidance and efforts to help state agencies better serve LGBTQ+ New Yorkers and to create a more equitable and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ state employees.

“Pride Month is a time of celebration and a reminder to continue in our efforts to uplift the rights of the LGBTQ+ community here in New York State,” Governor Hochul said. “New Yorkers of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions deserve to be safe, heard and valued. The State of New York stands with and supports the LGBTQ+ community.”

Investing in the Harlem SGL•LGBTQ Center

Governor Hochul today announced a $4.4 million investment in the Harlem SGL•LGBTQ Center to provide a safe, culturally affirming environment to offer resources, programs and services, and to foster a sense of community for LGBTQ+ residents of New York City, particularly LGBTQ+ people of color and their families, friends, and allies.

The Harlem SGL•LGBTQ Center will provide a warm, inviting, and stigma-free atmosphere offering culturally competent medical treatment, mental health and social support services, legal referrals, life skills and career training, cultural programming and entrepreneurship classes, as well as internet and computer access.

Harlem Center President & CEO Carmen Neely said, "The Harlem SGL•LGBTQ Center project has been in the works since 2016 and we are happy and grateful that we will finally have a home. We can't thank Governor Hochul, her team, and our NYC elected officials enough for their support. Harlem's SGL LGBTQ+ community, family, friends, and allies will now be able to work together to provide the programs and services our Harlem and greater NYC residents need. This is the beginning of a new era and we are absolutely excited and ready to get to work!"

State Senator Cordell Cleare said, “I am excited that Governor Kathy Hochul has announced a $4.4 million investment in the Harlem SGL•LGBTQ Center in the heart of the 30th District, during Pride Month. This will be a space where everyone from LGBTQ+ youth to seniors, will enjoy a one-stop hub for social, educational, and culturally sensitive programs, and services. The center will provide a safe environment for socializing, office space, and activities. The Governor also added a $1 million investment in resources and support for the LGBTQ+ community for workforce development programs. As a State Senator I am particularly happy to learn that the governor has issued new policy directives to assist state agencies to provide a more equitable and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ constituents, as well as LGBTQ+ state employees. It's important that everyone in my district feels comfortable, respected and has their needs met to our best ability. This funding will help achieve all those goals in our Harlem neighborhood, and at a culturally affirming Center for members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Assemblymember Inez E. Dickens said, “I commend our Governor Kathy Hochul for her decisive action and remarkable dedication to our LGBTQ+ community with the $4.4 million investment in the Harlem SGL•LGBTQ Center — a project close to my heart, where I had the honor to assist in the negotiations with our exceptional developers, leading to the ribbon-cutting ceremony last June. This facility is not just a building; it is a beacon of hope, fostering safe and culturally affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals right here in our beloved Harlem. As someone who has always advocated for the rights and resources for the LGBTQ+ community, including securing a unprecedented low-cost space for Harlem Pride for the first time, I am thrilled to see these further strides towards inclusivity and support under Governor Hochul's leadership.”

Supporting TGNCNB Workforce Development

Governor Hochul today announced that up to $1 million is being made available for workforce development programs specifically for organizations that serve transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (TGNCNB) people. This funding further expands state agency funds serving the TGNCNB community. Governor Hochul's administration has invested $12.25 million in total for the Lorena Borjas Transgender and Non-Binary Wellness and Equity Fund, continuing to build upon the state’s commitment to the TGNCNB community.

The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) will issue a formal solicitation in September. Any interested organizations are asked to complete this form to express interest in advance. By completing this form, NYSDOL staff can provide technical assistance to help organizations prepare for the grant application process.

The Request for Applications will solicit organizations to create or expand programs that help qualify TGNCNB individuals for employment or for increased wages. Programs that could receive funding include, but will not be limited to, occupational skills training, career development services and work readiness, employability, and job retention skills. Organizations that are led and/or staffed by TGNCNB individuals will be given extra points in the scoring process as they are best equipped to handle the unique needs of the TGNCNB community. The application process is expected to close in late October.

This program follows the release of NYSDOL's 2023 TGNCNB Employment Report, which found that community relationships and skill development are key to enhancing TGNCNB individuals' economic mobility.

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "I applaud Governor Hochul for continuing to advance nation-leading efforts to ensure equity for all New Yorkers, including the LGBTQ+ community. The New York State Department of Labor is proud to support quality workforce development programs so transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary New Yorkers get the skills they need to be part of our robust economy.”

Nation-Leading Guidance on the Collection of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Demographic Data

Accurate data on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) is vital for State agencies to make informed decisions and provide high-quality services to LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. In 2023, Governor Hochul signed into law S.3225/A.358 requiring that New York State agencies, boards and commissions that directly or by contract collect demographic data as to the ancestry or ethnic origin of residents of the State of New York use, to the extent practicable, separate collection categories and tabulations for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The law also calls for New York State to issue guidance for State agencies to utilize in their implementation and compliance with the law.

Governor Hochul today released New York State’s guidance for the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data from New York State residents. The guidance summarizes the latest research and best practices in this area and will enable State agencies to better understand the utilization of State programs by LGBTQ+ communities and the disparities that exist, with the goal to improve service delivery and reduce barriers to access.

Additionally, Governor Hochul released New York State's gender inclusive language policy guidance, which instructs agencies on best practices in the use of accurate gender neutral language when drafting agency materials like web content, reports, policies, rules, regulations, proposed legislation, and other documents.

Empowering New York State Employees to Use Chosen Names

In order to further ensure that New York State government is an affirming and inclusive workplace for all employees, including LGBTQ+ individuals, Governor Hochul announced a new policy to strengthen the ability for State employees to utilize a first name other than their legal first name, also known as a “Chosen Name,” in certain systems and records related to their State employment. The policy also expands the systems and records in which a chosen name can be used to state employee ID badges and the Statewide Learning Management System.

This builds on Governor Hochul's commitment to making it easier for New Yorkers to have documents and records that accurately reflect their identities. For just over two years, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has offered New Yorkers the ability to select X as the gender marker on their licenses, permits, and identity documents, with approximately 5,200 New Yorkers selecting a gender X marker so far.

New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang said, “By enabling State employees to use a "Chosen Name" in State systems and records, New York State is reaffirming its commitment to inclusivity and respect for LGBTQ+ employees. I commend the Governor for taking action to implement this fix when Ray Gdula, an Excelsior Fellow and Investigative Counsel in my office, shared their personal experience of being unable to have their correct and ‘Chosen Name’ accurately displayed in state systems and on ID badges. The Offices of the New York State Inspector General are proud to stand with our State's LGBTQ+ community and promote concrete steps to increase inclusivity for transgender, gender non-confirming and non-binary State employees.”

DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “I have seen what an enormous impact the creation of the Gender X marker has had on people who finally can carry an ID in their pocket, and now on their phone, that properly reflects their identity. The DMV staff and I are very proud to have made this option available as part of New York’s long and proud history of support for the LGTBQIA+ community.”

Strengthening LGBTQ+ Inclusive Domestic Violence Programs

The LGBTQ+ Endorsement Program, first announced by Governor Hochul as a pilot in June 2022, is dedicated to operationalizing New York State's values and commitment to LGBTQ+ survivors of gender-based violence. This month, the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) is announcing that all five OCFS-approved domestic violence programs participating in the pilot — Barrier Free Living, BHSN STOP Domestic Violence, Family Counseling Services of the Finger Lakes, The Safe Center LI, and YWCA Northeast New York — have been endorsed by OPDV as LGBTQ+ inclusive, having met certain LGBTQ+ program standards. As the next step in ensuring all LGBTQ+ survivors have access to affirming services, OPDV will open the endorsement program to any OCFS-licensed residential domestic violence service providers and from OCFS-recognized non-residential domestic violence service providers.

OPDV Executive Director Kelli Owens said, “When the system that serves those impacted by gender-based violence was built, it did not contemplate the needs of those in the LGBTQ+ community. New York is taking very visible and affirming steps to ensure all people, no matter how they identify, know they can find safety and support. This new endorsement program affirms that people are seen and heard. It truly operationalizes New York's values of assuring we have a system that is survivor-centered, trauma-informed and culturally responsive to those impacted by domestic violence in the LGBTQ+ community.”

Supporting LGBTQ+ Older Adults

Nearly three million LGBTQ+ people are age 50 and older in the U.S., and that figure will grow to nearly seven million by 2030. To improve support for LGBTQ+ people and older adults, Governor Hochul announced the Office for the Aging’s updated LGBTQ+ Resource Guide For Older Adults and Aging Services Networks. The resource guide includes background on the unique service needs of LGBTQ+ older adults, along with a comprehensive statewide directory of over 200 organizations who specialize in LGBTQ+-inclusive services.

NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said, “NYSOFA works continuously to support diverse populations of older adults and we are proud to recognize Pride Month. Our agency is committed to fostering inclusive, person-centered programs and services for LGBTQ+ adults as they age. Additionally, I thank the Advisory Council of Older LGBTQ+ New Yorkers who ensure our services meet the needs of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.”

Governor Hochul’s Dedication to the LGBTQ+ Community

Governor Hochul has always championed policies and made investments to support LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. This week, she signed a legislative package to uplift LGBTQ+ history, preserve the legacy of Stonewall, and address inequities experienced by people living with HIV/AIDS. In June 2023, she announced a $33.5 million investment to increase support for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers and signed legislation to protect and affirm the LGBTQ+ community by creating a shield law for youth seeking gender affirming care and those that assist them.