Recently, we have seen massive destruction across the eastern United States as a result of Hurricane Sandy and winter storms. But in the midst of this tragedy we have also seen a tremendous outpouring of support and generosity within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
In an effort to support those affected, the undersigned organizations have compiled the following list of resources for any LGBT people and families who may be facing additional challenges in the face of this disaster.
EQUAL ACCESS FOR LGBT PEOPLE AND FAMILIES
We know that because same-sex relationships and transgender identity often are not recognized and respected as others are, it can make accessing assistance during times like this even more difficult. Here are some key contacts and guidelines to help you and your family:
- The American Red Cross has a non-discrimination policy in accessing its shelters and applying for disaster assistance. LGBT people and families should be able to register and be housed as families and with access to facilities appropriate to their gender identity in their shelters. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly, first contact the shelter manager. If that does not help, or you are unable, please contact your local Red Cross office or the Corporate Ombudsman at 202-303-5399, 866-667-9331 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- FEMA also has a non-discrimination policy in accessing disaster relief. Assistance covers the entire household regardless of who is living there and their marital relationship, and of every person’s gender identity. For more information go to http://www.fema.gov/civil-rights-program. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly contact their Office of Equal Rights at 202-646-3535.
- How families are treated can vary from state to state when it comes to disaster assistance. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly based on your sexual orientation, marital status or gender identity, contact any of the following for help:
- Your local legislative representative or state office of civil rights.
- Your local ACLU affiliate, which can be found here: http://aclu.org/affiliates.
- Lambda Legal’s Legal Help Desk, which can be reached toll free at 1-800-542-8336 and at http://www.lambdalegal.org/help. If you have difficulty getting through on the toll free number or by email (which are supported in NYC), feel free to call the Help Desks of any of the regional offices in Atlanta (404-897-1880), Chicago (312-663-4413), Dallas (214-219-8585) or Los Angeles (213-382-7600).
- For those in New England states, the Legal InfoLine of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders at 1-800-455-GLAD (4523).
WHAT CAN I DO?
We encourage all members of the LGBT community to assist in the response and recovery any way possible, including:
- DONATE: Consider supporting the American Red Cross or one of the many local LGBT organizations in these communities whose mission has been impacted by the storm
- VOLUNTEER: Consider giving your time if you live near the impacted area. For volunteer opportunities contact your local government office, or state or local LBGT organization
ADDITIONAL LGBT RESOURCES
- If you or a young person you care about is having trouble coping or is thinking about suicide, please call these free and confidential services, available 24/7:
- The Trevor Project’s Trevor Lifeline (1-866-488-7386) for LGBTQ youth ages 13-24
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) LGBTQ adults 25 and older and non-LGBTQ people
- Local bar associations and relief agencies may organize legal support resources in the coming weeks to assist with insurance claims and other legal needs not caused by discrimination. Your LGBT community legal and advocacy groups may be able to provide information about those resources when they become available.
- Local LGBT Centers also carry extensive resources on a variety of issues that may be of assistance to those affected by disaster. Find your local center at http://www.lgbtcenters.org/Centers/find-a-center.aspx
- Your state LGBT organization may be able to provide help and resources. To find your state LGBT center go to www.equalityfederation.org
- Empire State Pride Agenda (NY) Disaster Information - http://tinyurl.com/espa-sandy
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR THOSE IMPACTED
American Red Cross - http://www.redcross.org/find-help
- Find an Open Shelter
- Register or Search the Safe & Well Listing
- Disaster Recovery Guides
Federal Disaster Assistance – http://www.disasterassistance.gov or 800-621-3362
SAMHSA provides 24-hour disaster crisis counseling at 800-985-5990, text “TalkWithUs” to 66746, or visit www.disasterdistress.samhsa.gov
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 24 hour Disaster Distress Helpline can provide immediate counseling to anyone who needs help
Government Resources (State)
- Pennsylvania Information - http://tinyurl.com/czfdud8
- New York Information - http://www.governor.ny.gov
- New Jersey Information - http://www.ready.nj.gov
- Connecticut Information - http://tinyurl.com/dyela2g
- Rhode Island - http://www.riema.ri.gov
- Delaware - http://dema.delaware.gov
- Virginia - http://www.vaemergency.gov
- North Carolina - https://www.nccrimecontrol.org
During times like these, we are proud to stand together as an LGBT and allied community to help our friends and neighbors. We wish you all a safe and speedy recovery.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Empire State Pride Agenda
Garden State Equality
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA)
National Center for Transgender Equality
The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Parents, Family, Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG)
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF)
The Trevor Project