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Get involved with The Citywide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee of The New York City Federation for Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services, an advisory body to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The DOHMH Federation advises the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in its mission to partner with consumers, families and providers to ensure access to high quality services to improve the lives of New Yorkers with mental health and chemical dependency disorders and those with mental retardation and developmental delays and disabilities. The Citywide LGBT Committee is charged with advocating for the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender recipients of services. We meet at the LGBT Center every second Wednesday of the month from 3 to 4:30 pm. Christian Huygen (Executive Director of Rainbow Heights Club) and Bert Coffman (Founder of Zappalorti Society) serve as co-chairs. All consumers and providers are welcome to attend.

Please e-mail christianhuygen@rainbowheights.org if you would like to get involved.

Planned and presented by

The Citywide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee of The New York City Federation for Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services.

An advisory body to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The lack of solid information about issues, challenges, and best practices constitutes a barrier to LGBT consumers receiving effective and affirming services. To remedy this situation, the consumers and providers of the Citywide LGBT Committee planned and presented a citywide conference, held on May 13, 2009, to share information and resources, raise the profile of LGBT affirming agencies, and ensure that all consumers can receive effective, culturally competent care, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The co-chairs of the Citywide LGBT Committee (Christian Huygen, Ph.D., provider co-chair, and Bert Coffman, consumer co-chair) successfully mobilized a broad array of support and engagement around this event. The conference was co-sponsored by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; the New York State Department of Health; NYC DOHMH Office of Consumer Affairs; the LGBT Community Center; and Rainbow Heights Club. 

The consumers who attend the LGBT Citywide Committee meeting decided that the conference should be free of charge; that it should meet the needs of both consumers and providers; that breakfast and lunch should be provided to registered attendees, also free of charge; and that an ambitiously broad range of topics and issues should be addressed. The conference organizers (Christian Huygen and Parker Hurley, both on the staff of Rainbow Heights Club) then organized an array of panel discussions and invited speakers from a broad range of community agencies to address these topics. (Future conferences will be organized by distributing requests for proposals for presentations.) 

The conference was a great success. Over 250 people attended on May 13, 2009, at the LGBT Community Center in New York City, and the venue was already filled to capacity at nine in the morning, with more people joining throughout the day. Ninety-one written evaluations of the event were received. The remainder of this document summarizes those evaluations.

Attendees were overwhelmingly happy with the conference. Everyone rated the overall experience as Good or Excellent. Many written comments praised the entire conference and particularly the opportunity to hear from the consumer perspective. A typical comment in this category was, “One of the best conferences I have ever attended, and I have attended many.”

Several respondents felt that the inclusive ideology of the conference (with consumers and providers attending and participating in all the presentations) was wonderful and inspiring.  Others felt that the conference was attempting to bridge two disparate goals (namely, to train providers in culturally competent practices, and to provide a space for allies and community members to come together and share information and resources), and that it would be more effective to pursue these goals separately in future years.  Specifically, a few respondents felt that it might be beneficial to have a peer to peer track anda separate clinical/professional track. 

Several respondents commented on the minor technical problems that delayed the beginning of the conference about 15 minutes. A number of people noted that although this was only the first conference of its kind, it had already outgrown the 200-seat capacity of the venue before the conference even started.

Individual respondents felt that the conference will need more space and time in the future; that more time should be provided so that attendees can socialize and exchange business cards; that introductions for panelists and speakers should be kept brief to allow more time for presentations and discussion; and that breakout sessions should be repeated because some people wanted to attend presentations that were scheduled simultaneously. 

Special topics suggested for presentations in future conferences included: 

  • LGBT families
  • homelessness
  • street culture
  • bisexuality
  • transgender issues
  • the experience of LGBT consumers in correctional settings
  • best practices in case management for LGBT consumers
  • nonconforming self identifications, such as genderqueer
  • class and race issues in LGBT consumers
  • creating organizational change
  • religion and spirituality
  • women’s and lesbian issues
  • treatment resistance and how to address it
  • meeting the needs of questioning youth
  • how to engage LGBT consumers in clubhouses
  • domestic violence in LGBT relationships
  • family therapy for LGBT people and families
  • emotional needs of children
  • mobilizing our community for social justice
  • serving residents of the outer boroughs in their own communities
  • stereotypes and stigmatization in communities of color, and how to break through that
  • children of LGBT people living with mental illness
  • relapse prevention in LGBT consumers
  • borderline personality disorder in LGBT consumers
  • the phenomenon of aging in the transgender community

The vibrancy and range of these suggestions points to the need for this conference to become an ongoing event, providing an ongoing forum for the sharing of information and resources. We are currently developing the 2010 E/Quality care conference. We welcome your participation in the planning and execution of the event in 2010.

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