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Joined senate president, Stan Rosenberg along with the newest commission members of the #LBGTQ youth commission get sworn in at the state library. Secretary Sudders was on site to welcome and congratulate the new members.

Joined senate president, Stan Rosenberg along with the newest commission members of the #LBGTQ youth commission get sworn in at the state library. Secretary Sudders was on site to welcome and congratulate the new members.

Secretary Marylou Sudders, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, members from the Legislature, and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Youth (LGBQT) Commission came together in the beautiful State House Library to recognize and celebrate the LGBQT Massachusetts Commission. Established 25 years ago, Massachusetts was the first and only state to create a commission that was dedicated to the needs of the LGBTQ youth. Each year the Commission swears in new members and releases its annual recommendations, this year focusing on:

  • The themes of development and implementation of nondiscrimination policies and guidance;
  • Cultural competency training for agency staff and contracted providers; and
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity data collection.

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services’ agencies have convened an interagency work group since fall 2016 to discuss best practices, share information, and ensure forward momentum in implementing the recommendations of the Commission.

Leo Palmer, a youth speaker and member of the Commission, reminded us that many of the individuals in the LQBTQ community face tough challenges, and that not everyone is able to stand in front of a crowd and talk about their experiences so freely.

For that reason, and many others, we are proud to be actively involved in the Commission. Our various efforts include the following:

  • The Department of Public Health (DPH) hosts most Commission meetings and houses staff that make the work of a volunteer-based membership possible. DPH has long been committed to developing consistent policies and practices for working with LGBTQ populations. DPH has made LGBTQ young people a priority population in its strategic plan for smoking prevention, as well as continuously providing resources through programs focused on suicide prevention, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention and intervention.
  • The Department of Youth Services (DYS) has led the nation in developing and implementing policy and guidelines to prohibit discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ youth. The DYS policy and guidelines, which became effective in July of 2014, were developed through collaboration with community advocates, including members of the Commission. DYS has received state and national recognition for their work on behalf of LGBTQ young people.
  • Department of Mental Health (DMH) is currently engaged in a multi-year project to evaluate, strengthen, and advance the cultural competency and services it offers to its LGBTQ clients. DMH has already conducted several needs assessments and identified areas where its services and support are strongest and where DMH needs further training and assistance.

    Senate President Stan Rosenberg inducting the newest members into the LGBTQ Commission

  • The Department of Children and Families (DCF) has had an internal LGBTQ liaison program, with representation from nearly every Area Office in the state. These liaisons are DCF workers who voluntarily serve as a resource for their colleagues in order to address the needs of LGBTQ youth. Through the liaisons, DCF has created a LGBTQ guide for social workers, foster parents, and other adults working with LGBTQ DCF-involved young people.

The ceremony ended after Senate President Stan Rosenberg inducted the new members into the LGBTQ Commission and presented them with a citation recognizing their 25th Anniversary.Senate President Stan Rosenberg inducting the newest members into the LGBTQ Commission

Thank you to the members of this commission for the work you are doing each day to create those safe and supportive environments that help LGBTQ young people thrive. EOHHS will remain a strong partner to the Commission on their important efforts.

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