Regardless of whether it comes from the bullet of a gun, the letter of the law, or the animus of anti-LGBTQ sentiment, we find this violence intolerable and unacceptable. As the only LGBTQ center in Newark or in Essex County, we stand out as a shining beacon of hope, resisting the storms of hate and intolerance, and striving toward a future of justice and inclusivity. We offer a safe harbor to members of the LGBTQ community. Our social justice initiatives focus on the following:
Anti-bias policing: The Newark Police Department Collaboration
Eliminating gender and LGBTQ bias in policing: The Newark Police Division Initiative:
For the past three years, the Newark LGBTQ Community Center has worked with the Newark Police Division to implement new policies, practices, and training for Newark police officers to address inequities and insensitivity to issues related to LGBTQ people and their engagement with law enforcement and public safety systems in Newark.
Made recommendations in 2017 that resulted in discontinuing the use of an offensive training curriculum that was being used to train police officers.
Hosted and participated in multiple community meetings to create a new training curriculum and to foster positive discourse and relationship with the Newark Police Department. A new training curriculum was created with the contribution of several key stakeholders in the LGBTQ community in Newark, NJ and greater Essex County.
Reviewed and made recommendations to improve the language of anti-bias policies and implementation of equitable police practices. The Newark Police Department has now added an identifying option on police reports so LGBTQ crime victims can identify through choice gender variance or connection to the LGBTQ community.
The Center now receives notice of any LGBTQ crime victim or bias related crime events. When LGBTQ crime victims choose, they are given the Center’s contact information for additional support. The NPD also notifies the Executive Director of any LGBTQ crime reports/victims so that the LGBTQ community is aware of any trends or increased risk of violence. We also offer support through referral services if needed. The Executive Director met with the Manager of Walgreen’s located in the Ironbound section of Newark to assist in gaining access to the police report of a bias incidence against an employee so that corporate resources could be available to the local store to ensure the safety of an employee from the LGBTQ community.
The success of this initiative was noted in the Federal Monitor’s latest quarterly report:
PROTECTING AND VALUING THE LIVES AND SAFETY OF TRANS FOLX:
Challenged the investigation and the family notification related to the death of Ashely Dean Moore, a 26-year-old Black Trans woman who was found dead in April 2020 on the street outside the YM/WCA of Newark on Broad Street. Our advocacy resulted in the reopening of the case by the Essex County Prosecutors Office, the creation of the Ashely Moore Amendment to NPD anti-bias policy and providing 2 days of comprehensive training of Command Officers. The success of this work was acknowledged by the NPD and the federal monitor overseeing the implementation of recommendations on the Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice.
Trans Affirming Alliance (TAA) Partnership
In December of 2020, the TAA began operations and the alliance partners with existing LGBTQ centers in New Jersey to provide legal services, mental health counseling, career guidance, support groups, and targeted health and wellness services for the transgender community, such as vocal coaching. The Center is a safe space resource for Trans people who can gain access to TAA services through referral. The Center will also be part of the TAA advisory council. For more on TAA – go to Home - TRANS AFFIRMING ALLIANCE
OTHER SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCACY INITIATIVES:
Demanding Justice in Orange NJ
A married, gay couple has been victimized by biased threats from a neighbor and the City of Orange has done nothing to prosecute the crime or protect the gay married couple. Manny Ortega reached out for help and now the Newark LGBTQ Center is demanding that those responsible for these acts by fully prosecuted and held accountable. (See the letter to Mayor Warren of the City of Orange Township).
Working with students and schools (public and private) across New Jersey:
Many students and their families are impacted by issues of coming-out, bullying, and insensitive education systems that do not adequately offer affirming environments for LGBTQ youth. The Center is working on a variety of projects in Orange, Newark, and Morris County to assist students and families in advocating and demanding change so that LGBTQ youth are safe in schools and empowered to have their needs meet in an appropriate manner.
Social Justice in Housing and Health Services:
Health Access and addressing COVID-19 disparities
The Center works with a variety of health services providers to ensure the needs of LGBTQ people, especially Black and Indigenous People of Color are safe and available. This includes efforts to inform the community about the issues resulting for the COVID-19 pandemic and fair access to testing and vaccines. The Center hosts public Zoom information forums with local health experts, elected officials, and community stakeholders to eliminate disparities in healthcare. The Center received a grant in 2020 to assist in enrolling people into healthcare insurance markets so that LGBTQ people can receive the health services that they need.
The Center assisted a non-gender conforming individual who was the victim of housing discrimination, helping the constituent to win a $4,000 award paid by the offending landlord who had illegally evicted the constituent and destroyed personal belongings in the process of the illegal eviction.
If you experience discrimination or bias in education, housing, health services, or policing, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will assist you directly or link you to other advocates.