Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Community Forum On Homeless LGBT Youth

ALI FORNEY CENTER TO HOLD COMMUNITY FORUM ON HOMELESS LGBT YOUTH: Sleeping in the streets or walking down the aisle? Prioritizing LGBT youth in our struggle for equality

WHAT: The Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, will host a forum on May 3 at New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.  The forum follows the recent budget put forth by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature, which would cut funding for homeless youth services by 50 percent, potentially forcing the closure of a number of youth shelter beds, putting vulnerable youth on the street, and disproportionately harming vulnerable LGBT youth.

The forum will examine the struggle to protect the thousands of youths who have been rejected by their families due to homophobia, and their relationship to the broader struggle for LGBT equality.


The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
Room 101
208 W. 13th St
Tuesday, May 3
7:00 – 9:00 PM


Cathy Renna, moderator.  Cathy is nationally recognized as a media relations expert and as a leader within the LGBT community.  As a major force behind the success and growth of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), where she worked for 14 years, Cathy served as a primary spokesperson for GLAAD, as well as its first National News Media Director. She is currently Managing Partner of Renna Communications, a public interest communications firm that specializes in LGBTQ issues. She lives on Shelter Island, NY with her wife and daughter.

Forum panelists will include:

Carl Siciliano is the founder and Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, the largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth in the United States. The Ali Forney Center provides emergency shelter and longer-term housing, as well as medical and mental health services to homeless LGBT youth. Carl has acheived national recognition as an advocate for homeless LGBT youth, and as a groundbreaking innovator in the provision of their care.

Lewis Fidler, New York City Councilmember for the 46th District. Councilman Fidler has served in the New York City Council since 2002. He is the Assistant Majority Leader of the Council's leadership team, and is the Chairperson of the Youth Services Committee. Councilman Fidler is a passionate advocate for homeless youth, and has played a key role in the Council's support in increasing shelter beds and supportive services for New York City's homeless youth.

Tobias Barrington Wolff is a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, a civil rights lawyer, and a long-time advocate for LGBT equality.  He has done extensive work on the relationship rights of same-sex couples and the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual service members in the U.S. military, and from 1998 to 2000 he was part of a litigation team representing LGBT youth in the New York City foster care system, seeking to obtain better protections, housing and resources for gay and transgender young people.  Professor Wolff is a frequent commentator in the media with recent appearances on The Rachel Maddow Show and CNN.

Kai Wright is a writer and editor in Brooklyn, NY, whose work explores the politics of sex, race and health. Kai is the Editorial Director of Colorlines.com, which offers reporting and commentary on issues of racial justice. He is an Alfred Knobler Fellow of The Nation Institute. His investigative reporting and news analysis appears regularly in The Nation, The Root and The American Prospect, among other publications. Kai is also author of  Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York, an award-winning book about the struggle of young gay men of color in Brooklyn as they look to find safe housing, as well as their places in the broader LGBT community. He is also the author of two books of African-American history.

Nico Sifra Quintana is the co-author of the report On the Streets; The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth by the Center for American Progress. Nico is a fellowship advisor for the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship at the Congressional Hunger Center. Before joining the Congressional Hunger Center, Nico served as a Emerson Hunger Fellow with American Progress and at The Food Project in Boston working on community food security research and food justice initiatives. Nico also worked in the office of Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) as a staff assistant, and in the Office of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) as a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellow. Prior to coming to the east coast, Nico was a community organizer in Oregon working on LGBT youth equality and school safety, racial justice, and farm worker rights initiatives. Nico is a graduate of Smith College with a degree in government and sociology. Nico is a formerly homeless gay youth.

CONTACT: For any questions, contact Cathy Renna (917-757-6123; cathy@rennacommunications.com)

The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City.   The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together.  AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.

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