Updated: April 19, 2016 at 10:03 a.m.
A senior is lobbying the city to give more resources to the LGBT community.
Travis McCown, a senior and a human services and social justice major, testified at a D.C. Council hearing this month to encourage D.C. council members to increase the budget for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs. He said the Council should set aside more money specifically to help the LGBT community.
At the April 8 meeting, McCown asked the D.C. Council for a $250,000 increase in the office’s operating budget to allow for more city grants that could benefit LGBT people in the city. During his testimony, he said the money could go toward funding for older people in the LGBT community.
“The city can always reach out to more people, and it can always find new ways to expand that outreach,” McCown said in an interview last week.
The proposed D.C. budget allocated $206,000 for the office for the next fiscal year – a $3,000 decline since the allocation last year. Every year, the D.C. Council reviews the mayor’s proposed budget for each agency and then passes the budget.
McCown, who identifies as queer, said while there have been many advances made for “what popularly we call ‘gay rights,'” there are still individuals in the LGBT community who do not receive the support they need.
At the hearing, he pointed to a study that found that 65 percent of gay and lesbian seniors live alone, nearly double the rate of all seniors. He said more grant money for the LGBT office could help serve that demographic.
McCown said at large Council member Anita Bonds questioned him at the meeting about providing the money in addition to the cost of the services the D.C. Department of Aging provides to these people. He said the requested money would be in addition to those funds.
“The needs of LGBT community members, and specifically older adults, are not decreasing, and neither is the number of LGBT community members seeking or requiring services,” McCown said at the meeting.
McCown is a development intern for the D.C. Center for LGBTQ Community, a nonprofit organization that improves health, culture and support services for LGBT people. Known as the D.C. Center, the organization provides things like FUK!T Safer Sex Kits, which include two condoms, two lubricants and an informational card about the materials.
He said volunteers, including GW students, assemble the kits and distribute them at places like Town Danceboutique to teach about safer sex.
The D.C. Center set up a Change.org petition to increase the budget for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs. The petition currently has 180 supporters.
Funds could also go towards the organization’s Center Global program, which helps members of the LGBT community who have been persecuted in their native countries because of their sexual or gender identification. He said that increased grant money could go to a meal program for these people.
The Mayor’s Office on LGBT Affairs awarded the D.C. Center with a $4,500 grant to help homeless LGBT youth in the District this fiscal year, McCown said. Other government organizations awarded them with other grants that add up to $160,000 total.
This post is updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the Mayor’s Office awarded the D.C. Center $160,000. They awarded them $4,5000 and the center received the rest of their grants from other organizations.