Ortiz bill would require more LGBT training for homeless shelter staff

Photo courtesy of GLAAD

For the third straight year, the state Assembly has passed a bill that would require expanded training for organizations that care for runaway and homeless youths.

The bill (A.2662) was introduced by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn. It would require all employees of organizations that provide care to runaway and homeless youth receive training that addresses specific challenges faced by those interacting and assisting LGBT youth in shelters.

“The plight of runaway and homeless youth is of rising importance in New York state. It is vital that we properly assist LGBT youth who often fall between the cracks,” Ortiz said in a press release.

The amending to the current version of the bill includes requiring all employees of approved programs providing care to runaway and/or homeless youth to complete training as set forth in regulations promulgated by the Office of Children and Family Services.

The training must place particular emphasis on appropriate terminology, particular challenges for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, ways to address homophobia from other youth at the shelter, confidentiality, and how to properly address the families of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, according to the bill’s text.

The legislation was first introduced by Ortiz in 2014 as (A.9804/S.6615), but both versions of the bill died in committee. The 2015-2016 version of the bill (A.4989/S.62) passed in the Assembly, but the Senate version only got as far as the Finance Committee.

The current Senate version of the bill is sponsored by State Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan. It currently sits in the Finance Committee as of January 2018, while the Assembly version of the bill passed on March 19.