Post Content

Within refugee communities and during the general resettlement process, LGBTQ refugees face significant challenges. They may have suffered trauma and stigmatization in their home or secondary countries based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and may still suffer or fear that they will suffer such stigmatization in their new homes and/or ethnic communities. They may be distrustful of authority and face obstacles in accessing resources and support as they worry about exposing their sexual or gender identity.

Over the past year, the Office of Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) has been working with the Massachusetts Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth to develop and adopt policies that take into account these needs and barriers to accessing services. With technical assistance from our federal funder, ORI is also designing systems to ensure that refugees in same-sex domestic partnerships receive the same treatment, eligibility, and access to Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance benefits as opposite-sex couples.

In order to ensure that our providers receive appropriate support, our own staff is trained regarding the issues and needs of this population, and the ways in which our policies and procedures may limit LGBTQ refugees’ access to mainstream LGBTQ services. Our agency is excited that our first step in this process is training of our own staff, and ORI staff will undergo Fenway Community Health Center training at the end of June.

ORI has developed a multi-stage work plan that includes statewide training for ORI providers regarding equal access to refugee services, policy recommendations, and information regarding mainstream LGBTQ resources; anti-bullying trainings for Youth Adjustment Services providers and Refugee School Impact Programs, in collaboration with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Safe Schools Program; and development of linguistically appropriate materials and information regarding mainstream LGBTQ resources at provider locations and via ORI’s website.

Written By:


Chief of Staff, Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants

Communications Director, Executive Office of Health and Human Services

Tags: ,

Recent Posts

Outpouring of Donations Make DCF Kids Christmas Wishes Come True posted on Jan 13

Feeling the joy of the holidays is especially important for children receiving services from the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Not all kids are able to spend Christmas with their biological families and being in need of DCF support can weigh heavily on families   …Continue Reading Outpouring of Donations Make DCF Kids Christmas Wishes Come True

Tips for Seniors: Making Spirits Bright and Healthy This Holiday Season posted on Dec 11

Tips for Seniors: Making Spirits Bright and Healthy This Holiday Season

For seniors, like everyone else, the holidays can be a great time but also an excuse to overindulge but it’s important to remember to enjoy the abundance of sugary, salty and high-fat foods in moderation. Seniors, in particular, must pay close attention to their diet   …Continue Reading Tips for Seniors: Making Spirits Bright and Healthy This Holiday Season

Walk-in support centers make sign up for health insurance easy posted on Dec 4

Walk-in support centers make sign up for health insurance easy

Every day, someone comes into the HealthFirst Family Care Center in Fall River wanting to see a doctor. In some cases, they don’t have health insurance. That’s when Kerri Lewis springs into action. Lewis is working at the Massachusetts Health Connector’s walk-in support center at   …Continue Reading Walk-in support centers make sign up for health insurance easy