The Joe Biden Foundation has partnered with YMCA of the USA in an initiative to help LGBT youth and families.
In an oped published in CNN and other media outlets, the former vice president and Kevin Washington — CEO of Y-USA — announced the partnership and its impetus. The article celebrated the recent legal successes of the LGBT community, but also stressed how localities must do their part to support people vulnerable to discrimination.
"Today, too many members of the LGBTQ community continue to face discrimination, harassment, rejection and physical violence every day at school, at work, in their neighborhoods and even in their homes," wrote Biden and Washington.
"This crisis is especially severe among youth. LGBTQ youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and they represent up to 40 percent of the homeless youth population even though they make up only about 7 percent of the overall youth population in the U.S.," noted the men, who also pointed to issues like food insecurity, hate crimes, and poverty that affect queer people and need addressing.
In order to "change our culture to one of greater inclusion, empathy and understanding," a selection of Ys will begin developing a variety of strategies and programs — such as member outreach, community partnerships, and personnel training — to help assist LGBT young people and families. The most effective practices will then be adopted by Ys across the country.
"Every American deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, but too many in the LGBTQ community are denied this basic human right today. This is unacceptable in a country founded on the belief that we all are created equal," wrote Biden and Washington. "Equality and opportunity for all is the way to a brighter future, and at the Biden Foundation and the Y, this is the future we are working to create."
Biden is a notable ally of the LGBT community. The politician has married several same-sex couples. He famously beat President Obama to the microphone on announcing his support for marriage equality, answering during an interview on Meet the Press in 2012, “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.”