By Bill Parry
The City Council passed three measures and one resolution last week to count and bring more robust services to LGBTQ individuals and people of color in the five boroughs.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), the prime sponsor of two of the bills, hailed the passage of data equity legislation that would allow New Yorkers to accurately identify their race, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, bringing “so many of New York’s communities out from the margins of society,” he said.
Intro 251-A will require city agencies such as the Department of Education and the Department of Homeless Services to collect data on the top 30 ethnicities and languages in the city and all data collected from these forms will be posted on the city’s website. Intro 552-A will require these agencies to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Now we count. This legislation is historic,” Dromm said. “It will provide the LGBTQ community and people of many different ethnicities greater access to vital city services. These important bills will do much to protect NYC residents who have been subject to institutional discrimination and neglect for far too long. This legislation will mean great things for our city.”
A third bill, Intro 551-A will require these agencies to include an option for multiracial ancestry or ethnic origin. Its prime sponsor, City Councilwoman Margaret S. Chin (D-Manhattan), explained the bills were necessitated by the growing diversity of the city.
“This legislation is not just about boxes we check off when filling out government forms,” Chin said. “It’s about recognizing every New Yorker as an integral part of the diversity that makes our city the greatest in the world. By allowing New Yorkers to identify as multi-racial or as members in a specific ethnic group, we are ensuring that everyone is counted and that city services reach people who need them the most.”
Dromm and Chin anticipate that Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign all three pieces of legislation into law in the coming weeks.
“Good data is the cornerstone of good policy and good programs,” Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays NYC Executive Director Drew Tagliabue said. “We are pleased that this legislation will provide invaluable data about the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and help PFLAG NYC, as well as city agencies and other independent organizations, to deliver the appropriate services to our constituencies.”
Javier Valdez, the co-executive director of Make the Road New York, said his Jackson Heights-based organization supports the legislation because it is critical that the city has comprehensive and accurate data on race, ethnicity, multi-racial identity, sexual orientation and gender identity.
“For our leaders to govern our city effectively, and provide the services that New Yorkers need, we need to have the data that reflect our communities’ wonderful diversity and complexity.”
Resolution 472, also passed in the Council last Thursday, requiring the agencies to amend their official forms and databases to accommodate multiracial identification in all instances where racial identification is required.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr