Focus On Youth, Bullying Prevention, Public Health
BOSTON -- Attorney General Martha Coakley, a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, called for greater efforts to better the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) residents of the Commonwealth through a detailed action plan involving improving public health in the LGBTQ community, caring for LGBTQ youth, and preventing bullying in schools.
Coakley's plan builds on her strong background of standing with same-sex families and partnering with the LGBTQ community to make lasting and beneficial changes to their everyday lives. Coakley recently toured Fenway Health, an institution making great progress in servicing the LGBTQ community. The mission of Fenway Health is to enhance the wellbeing of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and all people in its neighborhoods and beyond through access to the highest quality health care, education, research and advocacy.
"We are lucky to live in a state that has been at the forefront of the fight to protect equality and ensure opportunity for everyone in the LGBTQ community. I am proud to have been a part of that fight, to have successfully challenged the Defense of Marriage Act, stood up for the rights of transgender individuals, and championed strategies to better address bullying in our schools. Our work is not done, however," said Coakley. "As Governor, I will make it a priority to protect the progress we have made and continue to push forward until everyone in Massachusetts enjoys the same opportunities, without fear of discrimination or harassment."
Coakley's plan outlines key initiatives that will work towards addressing common issues faced by the LGBTQ community, including bullying. Coakley proposes integrating LGBTQ-related topics into school curricula and strongly supports An Act Relative to Healthy Youth, which would require school districts offering sexuality education to include critical issues that young adults face. She is also calling for an increase in the state budget for the Commission on LGBT Youth to offer anti-bullying training in every school district in the Commonwealth.
Another focus area is homeless LGBTQ youth; up to 40 percent of all unaccompanied homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and their service needs often differ from those of other unaccompanied youth. Coakley is calling for an expansion of services offered to these youth, including increasing the number of LGBTQ-specific shelters in Massachusetts and providing LGBTQ cultural competency training to all relevant state employees, such as caseworkers, health service providers and law enforcements officials.
Improving public health for LGBTQ individuals is also a goal of Coakley's initiative. She would like to see more health care organizations that offer comprehensive health services to this historically under-served population, such as Fenway Health. Coakley also is supporting the restoration of federal funding for HIV/AIDS prevention programs and ensuring competent care for senior members of the LGBTQ community.