By Sarina Trangle
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) introduced legislation requiring city agencies to include a sexual orientation and gender identity section on forms and then cull data from them to tailor services for the LGBTQ community.
Dromm said the city agencies’ current agnostic attitude toward whether New Yorkers are lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and queer, known collectively as LGBTQ, has led to a disparity in services.
“In today’s world, data is everything. Money is based on data collection,” Dromm said. “The LGBTQ community has not gotten their share of tax dollars and I feel it’s very important that we know what the needs are so that we can allocate funding and provide services.”
Dromm said, for instance, he is aware of only one senior center in Queens dedicated to the LGBTQ community and one youth program that works with that population within the borough.
The bill, which was introduced Nov. 25, came with a memo noting that research suggests LGBTQ people face higher risks for depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicide because of societal prejudices. They are 8.3 times more likely than heterosexual people to be victims of a violent hate crime, according to the civil rights advocacy group Southern Poverty Law Center.
Dromm’s bill asks that city agencies factor such statistics and other distinct LGBTQ community needs into policy decisions by providing annual reports on the LGBTQ community and giving city staff related training.
A dozen co-sponsors have signed on to Dromm’s bill, including City Council Majority Leader Jimmy van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria).
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Carrie Davis, chief programs and policy officer at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Manhattan, said the organization has been pushing the government to collect and use data on the LGBTQ community for about 15 years.
The U.S. Census began tracking the LGBTQ community in 2010, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has since announced the state will seek statistics on that population to enhance its interactions with government services.
“They do require computer program services, paperwork changes and that means you can’t just do it piecemeal,” Davis said. “Dromm is trying to really change the system here, and that’s a big deal — that kind of shift moves the bar successfully and quickly.”
Dromm said he did not anticipate that implementation of the bill would involve significant investments in technology or paperwork.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.