Senators Call on DOJ and HHS to Reverse Course and Continue to Prioritize LGBTQ Youth in Key Programs

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Patty Murray (D-WA), joined by 18 of their colleagues, wrote letters to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the departments to ensure that key programs designed to serve homeless youth and children who are the victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking, continue to focus on the needs of LGBTQ youth.

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

In the letters to DOJ and HHS, the senators expressed concerns that this year’s grant announcements for DOJ’s Mentoring for Child Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Sex Trafficking Initiative and HHS’ Street Outreach Program removed all mentions of LGBTQ youth as well as the requirement that grantees must specifically address the unique needs of LGBTQ youth. As LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk for running away and becoming homeless compared to their peers, and thus are more likely to be victimized, the decision to eliminate LGBTQ youth as a focus of these programs further imperils already vulnerable youth.

In addition to Sens. Baldwin, Casey and Murray, the following senators signed both letters: Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).