Safe schools and cultural competency are two of four areas deemed important by a mayoral panel for the D.C. government to focus on as it deals with the local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
Darlene Nipper, director of Mayor Williams's Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs, announced Tuesday the release of a report on recommendations for the district from the mayor's LGBT Advisory Committee. The committee consists of 22 members of the community, from A. Cornelius Baker, former head of Whitman-Walker Clinic (WWC) who now serves with the National Black Men's Advisory Committee, to Bruce Weiss, outgoing director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) who will be taking the reins at Whitman-Walker's Northern Virginia facility on Nov. 6.
''We have identified a set of recommendations that we think are critical to ensuring the vitality of the city's LGBT community,'' reads the introduction penned by the committee's chair, A. Billy S. Jones, one of the founders of the D.C. Coalition, who currently works with Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS). ''We believe, with your continued commitment, that these suggested actions can be accomplished prior to your leaving office. It is also our hope that this report will be included as a part of your comprehensive transition plan for the incoming mayor.''
Jones goes on to highlight four priority areas for the mayor. The first is collecting health-related data specific to the city's GLBT community. Second, there is a call for ''safe spaces'' in schools and other government funded education and recreation entities. Third, there is a call for ongoing GLBT-aimed cultural competency training for all D.C. personnel, but especially for law enforcement officers, first responders, correctional staff and emergency response staff. The final area Jones cites is a need for a demographic study of the city's workforce that includes both information on the unemployed and figures on the GLBT community.
''We truly feel that these recommendations offer critical information and suggested plans of action that will help the mayor and the incoming administration to adequately address the most pressing needs of our community,'' said Nipper in a release accompanying the report.