- Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth
Media Contact for LGBTQ Youth Commission Awards $18,000 in COVID-19 Emergency Funds, Urges State Support
Corey Prachniak-Rincón, Director
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth is today awarding over $18,000 in emergency grants to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on LGBTQ youth. Grantees include 20 individual youth in Massachusetts who have faced consequences such as losing their jobs, housing, healthcare access, and social support system as schools, workplaces, and meeting spaces have shuttered their doors. The grantees also include seven organizations from across the Commonwealth who are rushing to meet the needs of these youth, including:
- BAGLY (Boston)
- BUILD Program at Roxbury YouthWorks (Boston)
- Finca Luna Búho (Cheshire)
- Out Now (Springfield)
- Safe Homes at The Bridge of Central MA (Worcester)
- SWAGLY at AIDS Project Worcester (Worcester)
- TCORE at BAMSI (Brockton)
The Commission urges those in state government to consider the needs of LGBTQ youth as affirming spaces are closed and many lack a safe place to go. Many organizations also report losing significant revenue as fundraisers are canceled and funding streams dry up, underscoring the need for state funding at this critical time.
“The funding that we were able to provide is just a fraction of what is needed,” said Corey Prachniak-Rincón, the Director of the Commission, who uses nonbinary they, them, and theirs pronouns. “LGBTQ youth are losing the only places that they can go where they can be accepted and affirmed, whether that’s a high school GSA or a drop-in space or a college dorm. Many are having to choose between moving back in with families who don’t support their identities and who may cause them significant trauma, or living on the street. This is a dire situation for all young people, but LGBTQ people are being isolated from the social circles that are life-saving for many.”
In just two business days, the Commission received grant applications from 14 organizations and 44 youth, with many of the most at-risk youth likely not having seen the application or had a chance to apply - underscoring the need for more funding and services. Youth who were selected as grantees will receive funding in exchange for having shared their stories, which will allow the Commission to better fight for their needs as policy decisions are made by the Commonwealth in the coming months.
Organizations received funding in order to provide virtual services to clients in lieu of in-person services, such as online drop-in centers or telehealth sessions; to provide food and supplies to youth who find themselves without resources needed to survive; and to provide money for housing assistance as youth find themselves without a place to live as they are kicked off campus or lose jobs.
Much of the emergency funding was drawn from parts of the Commission’s budget that are focused on addressing inequities for LGBTQ youth of color in particular. “Even without a pandemic, we know that LGBTQ youth of color and transgender and gender-nonconforming youth disproportionately lack access to housing, health services, and opportunities,” said Sasha Goodriend, Chair of the Commission, who uses she, her, and hers. “As government agencies, organizations, and communities, we all need to take stock of our resources and see how we can best support our most vulnerable populations.”
The Commission will analyze the feedback it receives during the grant process and will include long-term recommendations to the state government when it publishes its annual policy report. The report was scheduled to be released on April 7th, but was delayed until June 18th due to the crisis.
The Commission also has a list of resources for LGBTQ youth specific to the COVID-19 epidemic that it is updating daily, and also has an interactive map of LGBTQ resources statewide. Many community organizations are offering online services - including the Commission itself, which has a virtual GSA open to students every Thursday at 1:00pm.