The Biden Foundation and the YMCA of the USA are teaming up to foster LGBT equality in Ys and in communities across the country.
The three-year initiative will make its way into YMCA locations nationwide following an initial pilot program to determine best practices for supporting LGBT people and their families, according to a press release.
Examples of potential outreach and engagement efforts include staff training, new programming initiatives, and community collaborations. Funding will come from the Gill Foundation and the David Bohnett Foundation.
"The Biden Foundation is committed to changing our culture so that everyone, including LGBTQ people, feel supported and affirmed," said Louisa Terrell, Executive Director of the Biden Foundation. "We could not ask for better partners in this work than YMCA of the USA, with its history, reach, and impact in communities across America."
"The Y is committed to addressing critical social issues and helping all people reach their full potential with dignity and respect," added Kevin Washington, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA.
"Our commitment is rooted in our inclusive mission and our belief that communities are stronger when everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Supporting the well-being and safety of LGBTQ youth and adults is an important need in our communities, and we are proud to partner with the Biden Foundation, Gill Foundation and David Bohnett Foundation to support it."
In an op-ed for CNN, Biden and Washington noted while some legislative gains have been made, like the passage of marriage equality and strengthened hate crime laws, "legal equality does not automatically translate into lived equality in our communities."
"This crisis is especially severe among youth. LGBTQ youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and they represent up to 40% of the homeless youth population even though they make up only about 7% of the overall youth population in the US," they wrote.
"In addition, LGBTQ individuals and families experience disproportionately high rates of poverty, food insecurity and violence. According to the FBI, LGBTQ individuals have surpassed other groups as the most likely to be targeted for hate crimes," they continued.
"Our shared belief is that communities—and our nation—cannot reach their full potential when a segment of the population is marginalized, and these harrowing statistics demonstrate we're not yet where we want to be."