SDNYC Statement on the First Audits of the NY Hate Crimes Act
Stonewall Democrats of NYC (SDNYC) commends NYS Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli for issuing the first ever audit of the NY Hate Crimes Act at the request of NYS Senator Brad Hoylman. These audits shine a light on this important issue that directly impacts the safety of the LGBT community by examining the NYC Police Department (NYPD) and the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS)' methods for recording and reporting hate crimes in NYC. SDNYC echoes the Comptroller's call for changes to the NYPD / DCJS' current methods for tracking of hate crimes and for the NYPD to better use the data collected to prevent future hate crimes in NYC. The NYPD has agreed to the audit's recommendations and SDNYC looks forward to reviewing an update from the Department in the near future. Click here for more information about the audits released today.
SDNYC President Eunic Ortiz said, "There are far too many hate crimes in our City each year, especially crimes against members of the LGBT community. The recommendations set forth by Comptroller DiNapoli and Senator Hoylman, along with the NYPD's promise to begin implementing these initial recommendations, is just the first step in combating these heinous crimes. SDNYC applauds the Comptroller and the Senator for their leadership on this issue and looks forward to working with our elected leaders and the NYPD to reduce the number of hate crimes in our City to the only acceptable number: ZERO."
In the span of just a few months this year, the city’s schools became more welcoming places for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, advocates and lawmakers said Wednesday during a discussion hosted by an LGBT political club.
Since February, the city’s education department has issued guidelines to help schools support transgender students, the schools chancellor encouraged educators to discuss LGBT issues with students, and the state incorporated the gay rights movement into its history standards, speakers noted at the talk, which Chancellor Carmen Fariña and two other school officials attended.
But, they said, the city could still do much more to embrace all students.
Transgender students can still be restricted from using certain restrooms or playing competitive sports under the new guidelines. Bullying is still a major issue, yet many school staffers and students get little training on how to prevent it. And it is unclear if the city’s new social studies curriculum will incorporate gay history, they pointed out.
“We need to have a gay pride celebration in every school. We need to have a gay-straight alliance in every school,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm, a former Queens elementary school teacher who made headlines years ago when he came out as gay. “I’m tired of waiting.”
PHOTO: Patrick Wall
Elayna Konstan, head of the education department’s Office of Safety and Youth Development, answered a question during the panel discussion.
Dromm, who chairs the council’s education committee, held a hearing on LGBT students in February that Fariña attended. Soon after, she sent principals a memo promoting classroom lessons designed to give students a chance “to gain insight on and sensitivity toward the experience of their LGBT peers.”
On Wednesday, she said she had recently had such a discussion with her eight-year-old grandson, who said he sympathized with a classmate who is “a girl that wishes she was a boy.”
“It’s really, really important that we have these conversations with our kids,” Fariña said. She said that the 200 new school guidance counselors hired this year could help facilitate those discussions.
Rose Christ, vice president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, which hosted the discussion, said the club did not know of any previous chancellor who had addressed “an LGBT organization or spoken at a public LGBT event” focused on schools.
“It’s historic that she was here tonight,” Dromm said about Fariña, who left after making her brief remarks. The officials in charge of school guidance counselors and student safety stayed and participated in the discussion.
They say that schools should allow students to dress in a way that matches their gender identity and should use students’ preferred name and pronoun, except on official records. The guidelines are less clear about which restrooms and locker rooms students may use, or whether they can participate in contact sports, saying that “the safety and comfort of all students” must be considered.
The policies represent a “tremendous step forward,” said panelist Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. But they could still be improved, he added. For instance, a transgender student who identifies as a boy but is not allowed to use the boys’ restroom “no longer feels like just another boy.”
PHOTO: Patrick Wall
Eunic Ortiz, president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, asks a question during the discussion.
While the state’s recently adopted social-studies standards cover gay history for the first time — meaning that high-school students could be tested on it — it is unclear whether the city’s soon-to-be-released history materials will include lessons on those events. Fariña did not resolve that question when asked Wednesday, saying only that she was open to discussing it further.
Since 2008, the city has required every school to designate an anti-bullying liaison and create an anti-bullying plan. Principals must train staff members on the city’s anti-discrimination policies, which prohibits mistreatment based on gender and sexuality, and students must receive at least one lesson on the discipline code, according to a department spokeswoman.
But Dromm and others noted during the discussion that the city does not require teachers to use its “Respect For All” lesson materials, and schools’ anti-bullying liaisons are the only staffers required to attend two-day trainings. Dromm added that when educators do talk about bullying with students, they sometimes leave LGBT issues out of the discussions.
The city does not record students’ gender identity or sexuality when documenting instances of school bullying or bias, making it difficult for advocates to spot trends, the panelists noted. Elayna Konstan, head of the department’s Office of Safety and Youth Development, said her office is still “exploring that with our lawyers.”
One panelist said the city should not ask students for that information, while others said the data is crucial for holding the city accountable for the safety of LGBT students.
“Our invisibility is our biggest enemy,” Dromm said.
Chalkbeat New York is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.
Thank you Chancellor Carmen Farina for speaking with us about LGBT policies in NYC public schools!
NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina & SDNYC President, Eunic Ortiz
Panel discussion on LGBT policies for students, teachers & families in NYC.
Thank you to our esteemed panelists: Council Member Danny Dromm, Chairman, Education Committee; Elayna Konstan, Head of Office of Safety & Youth Development for the DOE; Lois Herrera, Senior Director of Guidance & School Counseling for the DOE; Jared Fox, NYC Chapter Chairman, Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network; and Michael Silverman, Executive Director, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund! And of course many thanks to Paul Schindler, Editor, Gay City News for moderating our panel tonight!
SDNYC's next meeting will be this Wednesday, September 17th at 8 pm at the LGBT Center (208 W 13 St).
With September marking the start of the 2014-2015 school year, SDNYC's September meeting will be all about LGBT policies for students, families and teachers in NYC.
We are excited to welcome Special Guest Speaker, NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.
We will also be joined by Council Member Danny Dromm, Chairman, NYC Council Education Committee; Jared Fox, NYC Chapter Chairman, Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network; Michael Silverman, Executive Director, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and a Senior Official from the NYC Department of Education for a panel discussion of LGBT policies in NYC schools moderated by Paul Schindler, Editor, Gay City News.
This event is free and open to the public.
RSVP on Facebook to get the latest updates and to share information about this panel with your friends. All are welcome!
Public Advocate Letitia James Representative Charles Rangel Mr. David Dinkins, 106th Mayor of the City of New York Mr. Adolfo Carrion, Jr., 12th Borough President of the Bronx Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda Councilmember Inez Dickens Councilmember Andy King Councilmember Maria Del Carmen Arroyo Councilmember Annabel Palma
To our colleagues endorsing Fernando Cabrera for State Senate:
We recently learnedthat you have endorsed Councilmember Fernando Cabrera in the upcoming primary election for State Senate District 33, and that your names and likenesses are featured in Mr. Cabrera’s campaign literature. We are reaching out to explain why we are supporting Senator Gustavo Rivera in his re-election campaign.
We are proudly standing with Senator Gustavo Rivera because he stands with all of us in demanding reproductive justice and full equality for all New Yorkers, and he has proven time and time again his commitment throughout his tenure in the State Senate.
Senator Gustavo Rivera was a founding member of the Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus, joining his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to protect access to quality reproductive health services, remove barriers to these services, ensure access to education about reproductive choices, and respond to any potential infringement to the legal rights to reproductive healthcare in the State of New York. During the fight for the Women’s Equality Act, Senator Rivera has been a strong voice in support of all 10 points, especially protecting the right to choose for New Yorkers. Senator Rivera is an unequivocal supporter of reproductive rights, and has fought hard for improvements in the law to protect victims of domestic violence and curb sex trafficking.
During the fight for marriage equality in New York, Senator Gustavo Rivera stood by the LGBT community, serving as a key ally in Albany and his commitment to our community continues today. Senator Rivera is an unequivocal supporter of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), pledging to continue to fight for the passage of GENDA. He also supports legislation banning so-called "conversion therapy" for minors, eliminating the use of condoms as evidence in prostitution cases, and ending the prohibition on using Medicaid funds for gender transition-related health care services – all vitally important issues to our community.
Councilmember Cabrera does not.He actively works against all of our communities, and many of his policy positions are in opposition to the ideals of fairness and equality that we know all of you hold dear.
Councilmember Cabrera voted against 2011 legislation in the City Council that required transparency from deceptive crisis pregnancy centers. During a 2014 visit to Uganda, he praised its government’s flagrant human rights violations against LGBT individuals and openly espoused his support for theocratic government. By working with extremist anti-choice, anti-women and anti-LGBT organizations like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, Councilmember Cabrera has made it clear that he does not stand with us.
Your endorsements in this race are a deeply surprising deviation from your records of advocating for the women and LGBT New Yorkers and your long record of supporting pro-equality, pro-LGBT, pro-choice, pro-woman candidates for office.
Senator Liz Krueger
Senator Brad Hoylman
Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Assemblymember Deborah Glick
Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell
Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Carlos Menchaca
Council Member Ritchie Torres
M. Tracey Brooks, Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York Political Committee
Andrea Miller, NARAL Pro-Choice New York
Sonia Ossorio, National Organization for Women – New York City