Sen. Casey calls on feds to prioritize LGBT youth

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, along with 20 of his colleagues, last week urged two federal departments to ensure programs designed to serve homeless youth and children who are the victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation will continue to focus on the needs of LGBT youth.

In  letters addressed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the senators expressed concern for the former’s Mentoring for Child Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Sex Trafficking Initiative and the latter’s Street Outreach Program. Grant announcements for both programs removed all mentions of LGBT youth and the requirement that grantees must specifically address the needs of LGBT youth.

“During the campaign, President [Donald] Trump said that he would ‘do everything in [his] power to protect LGBTQ citizens,’” the senators wrote in both letters, dated Nov. 7. “We write to you because the administration is not living up to the president’s promise. We urge you to reverse course on actions that will make it more challenging for programs you oversee to serve LGBTQ Americans.”

In a statement to PGN, Casey noted the Trump administration’s record of reversing protections for LGBT people.

“Unfortunately, it is quite clear that the administration is working to roll back protections and programs that serve vulnerable LGBTQ Americans,” Casey said. “I urge DOJ and HHS to reverse course and work to ensure that key programs are meeting the unique needs of LGBTQ youth.”

Along with Casey, other senators, all off whom are Democrats, who signed the letter include Tammy Baldwin (Wisc.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Jack Reed (RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Edward J. Markey (Mass.), Al Franken (Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Ct.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Brian Schatz (HI), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Mazie Hirono (HI).