BIDDEFORD — The YMCA of Southern Maine has been selected by YMCA of the USA and the Biden Foundation to participate in the LGBTQ+ Inclusion and Equity Initiative. The Biden Foundation and YMCA of the USA announced a joint three-year effort to foster LGBTQ inclusion and equity at YMCA locations nationwide in May.

Both organizations share a commitment to ensuring all people are treated with dignity and respect. YMCA of Southern Maine was chosen as one of a pilot cohort of Ys that will develop and implement locally focused strategies designed to engage and support LGBTQ individuals and their families. These strategies may include staff training; member outreach and engagement; program innovation for LGBTQ youth, adults, seniors and families; and community collaborations. In following years, the best practices and tools developed by the cohort will be scaled to reach Ys nationwide.

“The goal of this initiative is to work with YMCAs across the country to create a safe, inclusive, and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ youth, adults, families, and communities. In order to truly have an impact in the LGBTQ+ community,” according to a recent press release. “We need your help.”

“YMCA of the USA has created a survey that is designed to help us understand local community needs,” according to the statement. “Your participation in this survey is critical to our success with this initiative. We are asking everyone to take 10 minutes to complete this confidential survey. The survey is available to all – those who do and do not identify as LGBTQ+.”

Some of the survey questions ask for input regarding LGBTQ+ community needs, as well as LGBTQ+ cultural competency and inclusion at a participant’s Y.

To take the survey, which closes Dec. 15, go to the website https://yusa.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6VTlFuuCGJkBoLr

The initiative is being funded by the Gill Foundation and the David Bohnett Foundation. The Biden Foundation and Y-USA will provide technical support and strategic guidance to Ys, and the initiative will be supported by a Biden Fellow and a new Y-USA staff position dedicated to LGBTQ inclusion.

“The Biden Foundation is committed to changing our culture so that everyone, including LGBTQ people, feel supported and affirmed,” said Louisa Terrell, Executive Director of the Biden Foundation. “We could not ask for better partners in this work than YMCA of the USA, with its history, reach, and impact in communities across America. The Gill Foundation, which has supported innovative strategies to advance LGBTQ equal treatment for decades; and the David Bohnett Foundation, which has invested significant resources in supporting and empowering local LGBTQ communities are equally powerful partners in this work.”

“The Y is committed to addressing critical social issues and helping all people reach their full potential with dignity and respect,” said Kevin Washington, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “Our commitment is rooted in our inclusive mission and our belief that communities are stronger when everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Supporting the well-being and safety of LGBTQ youth and adults is an important need in our communities, and we are proud to partner with the Biden Foundation, Gill Foundation and David Bohnett Foundation to support it.”

 

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