Championing LGBTQ+ Equity to Build a City that Works for Everyone

New York City and New Yorkers themselves stand at the center of our country’s LGBTQ+ rights movement. On June 28, 1969 the campaign for LGBTQ+ equity ignited on Christopher Street at The Stonewall Inn, where the patrons – including transwomen of color Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera – resisted police officials’ enforcement of New York’s anti-drag laws. In the 1980s, when HIV/AIDS was ravaging the country, Rodger McFarlane volunteered to field incoming calls at the Gay Mens’ Health Clinic (now, GMHC), thus operating the country’s first AIDS hotline. And in 2013, it was New York activist Edie Windsor who took the federal government to the court and successfully argued that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally treated her marriage to another woman as a second to that of marriage between opposite-sex couples.

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated hardships on marginalized communities and exposed the fault lines of equity in our society. Approximately two-thirds of LGBTQ+ households have experienced employment loss and incurred significant financial hardships – a 50% increase over non-LGBTQ+ households. LGBTQ+ households have also become increasingly food insecure and struggle to acquire needed medical care. 

And yet, the pandemic has not deterred LGBTQ+ New Yorkers’ march for justice. Look only to The Brooklyn Museum, where 10,000 New Yorkers marched to protest police violence against Layleen Polanco and other trans persons of color. The demand for equality runs strong in New York City, and it takes more than a pandemic to silence New Yorkers’ voices.

Shaun Donovan stands in awe of this tradition. Shaun believes that every person, no matter who they love or how they identify, deserves to be treated as a full and equal member of our great city. He was the first cabinet secretary to come out in favor of same-sex marriage. And while leading the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun issued federal regulations that forbid federal housing owners from discriminating against persons on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Shaun’s campaign is built on the notion that we must reimagine New York City as a place that truly works for everyone – a place where every person lives in a safe community, has an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams, and can access all the resources that New York City has to offer without discrimination. To that end, the Donovan administration will not merely pursue policies in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Those are table stakes. Shaun also vows to put New York back at the vanguard of LGBTQ+ rights.

Our plan will focus on:

Repairing the Government’s Relationship with the LGBTQ+ Community

In order for the City to properly support New York’s communities, it is critical that New Yorkers trust City Hall and feel respected and heard by it. The unfortunate reality of the milestones in LGBTQ+ rights that we’ve seen in our city is that many have come in opposition to the City’s position. Even today, our city does not go far enough to support its LGBTQ+ residents. The Donovan administration will prioritize addressing persistent gaps in equitable treatment and opportunity for our LGBTQ+ neighbors as a first step toward supporting this vital community. 

We are committing to the following policies and programs:

Decriminalize sex work and end the unjust policing of sex workers 

When, after decades of enforcement, a policy fails to achieve the goals that it was designed to effect, that policy and the wisdom behind it deserve to be reassessed. Shaun knows this is the case with our city’s criminalization of sex work. And though the recent decision by the Manhattan district attorney to no longer prosecute prostitution is a step in the right direction, we must do more to protect the range of sex workers in our city from the dangers of criminalization and arrest.

Many persons engaged in the sex work industry do so by circumstance or coercion to meet their economic needs, while others engage in it by choice. In both cases, sex workers deserve to be safe and protected at all times, as with any other worker in our city. Decriminalization of sex work will afford sex workers a way to pursue economic security and allow them to work under demonstrably safer conditions. What’s more, decriminalization will have the effect of removing people from the vicious cycles of arrest and incarceration and allow sex workers to seek legal remedies for violation or exploitation inflicted on them. 

The current injustices of the sex industry are felt disproportionately by the LGBTQ+ community. For example, given their high rates of homelessness, one study found that LGBTQ+ youth are seven to eight times more likely to trade sex than their cisgender, heterosexual peers. Another study found that trans persons who have been fired because of their gender identity or gender expression are three times more likely to resort to sex work to survive.

With all of this in mind, the Donovan administration is focused on taking a stance that puts the safety of New Yorkers first. We will look to decriminalize all aspects of sex work and reinvest resources previously dedicated to persecuting sex workers into housing, health care, and other social services that can address the root causes of people turning to sex work in the first place.

End the NYPD’s Vice Unit

The NYPD’s vice unit has failed to be held to account for its heavy-handed tactics and the way in which it has unevenly enforced crimes related to sex work. Vice’s frequent over-policing of communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community has subjected these groups to the indignities of arrest and the carceral system. 

ProPublica has extensively documented the vice squad’s patterns of abuse and misconduct as well as the lack of transparency surrounding the unit’s ethical guidelines. Shaun believes that such lawlessness cloaked in the mantle of the law is an injustice that cannot stand. 

The Donovan administration plans to end the vice unit and its discriminatory enforcement of justice. In doing so, the resources that the NYPD commits to Vice’s sting operations can be better allocated in support of the department’s overarching commitment to public safety. 

Address the needs of LGBTQ+ persons in the carceral system

The Donovan administration is committed to the idea that incarceration should be utilized only for the most necessary cases. Placing people within the corrections system imposes harms that compound not only on the individual incarcerated but also on his or her family and community. Shaun’s Criminal Justice platform outlines his commitment to ensuring that incarceration is used only as a last resort

However, those who remain in custody have an absolute right to their health, safety, and wellbeing. For the LGBTQ+ community, this includes a commitment to ensuring their mental health and safety as well as addressing their specific healthcare needs.

First and foremost, Shaun firmly believes that trans persons should not be denied either the same basic needs and human decencies that cisgender persons deserve or services specific to the trans community. Perhaps most pressing of these is the right of trans persons to be placed in environments that correspond to their own gender identities. To this end, the Department of Corrections must ensure persons are housed appropriately when they first enter the system. Critically, the Department must also streamline its system for managing applications and placement into its Transgender Housing Unit so that it is easier for persons to apply for such housing and that applications are reviewed in a timely manner. 

Moreover, Department of Corrections officers must respect a trans person’s gender identity in all contexts. This includes the use of a trans person’s chosen name and pronouns. The Department must also guarantee that all searches of trans persons be conducted by officers of that person’s expressed gender identity.

Further, trans persons have a right to live according to their expressed gender identity. Therefore, the Donovan administration will ensure that trans persons will be able to access transition-related medical care, such as hormone replacement therapy, while in custody. Trans persons will also be guaranteed access to gender-appropriate clothing and grooming supplies – basic decencies that are already afforded to cisgender inmates – so that they may present themselves in a manner consistent with their own expressed identities.

Shaun is committed to ensuring the physical safety and mental health of LGBTQ+ persons in custody. Incarcerated LGBTQ+ persons face increased rates of physical and sexual abuse from other prisoners, prison staff, and corrections officers. Prison officials must honor their legal and moral duty to keep all persons in custody safe. Violations of these duties are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the Donovan administration. 

And, Shaun’s administration will end the practice of solitary confinement. LGBTQ+ persons are more likely to be placed in solitary confinement than heterosexual and cisgender inmates. This practice often occurs under the shameless guise of ensuring an inmate’s safety. Other times, as was the case for Layleen Polanco, wrongful policies that keep transgender and cisgender persons in separate housing facilities push trans people out of general population housing and into solitary confinement. Layleen should still be alive today, and it is the City’s duty to ensure that this doesn’t occur to anyone else. The Donovan administration is committed to realizing the current administration’s unfulfilled promised to end the use of solitary confinement for any purpose whatsoever. 

Work with OPHC to reduce number of hate crimes

In 2019, anti-LGBTQ+ bias comprised the second-highest proportion of hate-crime complaints and arrests. In 2020, anti-LGBTQ+ bias remained the second-highest source of hate-crime complaints but became the greatest motivator of hate-crime arrests. Last year also saw LGBTQ+ hate crimes make up 30% of violent offenses in the city, the largest percentage across all bias categories. New York’s LGBTQ+ community showcases the real threat that hate poses to all New Yorkers and the need to effectively combat it.

Shaun is committed to reducing the number of hate crimes in New York City. To do so, the Donovan administration will work with the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes to ensure that hate crime complaints are taken seriously. Shaun will also ensure that OPHC has the resources necessary to respond to hate. But responding is not enough. Shaun is committed to implementing effective strategies that will reduce the number of instances in the first place. 

Commit to NYC as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ immigrants 

The LGBTQ+ community faces discrimination, even outright persecution, across the globe. Our city has a truly unique tradition of serving as a gateway for the global community to escape oppression and pursue a life where all people are declared equal under the law. Indeed, in Emma Lazarus’s famous words, New York City is a place for “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

LGBTQ+ issues are therefore significantly woven into immigration issues. According to the one study, approximately 300,000 immigrants identify as LGBTQ+ and 128,500 same-sex couples include one foreign-born partner/spouse. LGBTQ+ immigrants should not live under constant fear of deportation, especially when returning home would expose them to legal consequences for expressing their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Shaun believes that all immigrants are a vital part of New York City’s community. Our plan to address immigrants’ needs does not limit itself to the legal realities of immigration. Among other things, Shaun’s plan calls on the city to implement policies that will promote business ownership among immigrants, invest in new English as a New Language programs, and extend voting rights to non-citizen New Yorkers.

Learn more about our efforts to support, protect, and advocate for the immigrant community in our Immigration Platform.

Rebuilding the City by Pursuing Equity

The social and economic hardships brought on by 2020 have laid bare the many inequities of our lives before the pandemic. As we rebuild this city, it is incumbent on us to make the changes necessary to eliminate those ugly realities. Returning to the way things were simply is not an option.

Shaun’s vision for the city meets this moment. It is not enough that every effort to rebuild aims at promoting equity. For Shaun, the pursuit of equity itself must be both the goal and the guiding principle of our recovery. 

For LGBTQ+ New Yorkers, this approach will require the city to account for the history of the queer community and the challenges it has faced. Shaun can make this commitment. Moreover, his administration is dedicated to meeting the LGBTQ+ community’s unique needs, such as providing for its specific healthcare challenges, increasing the availability of safe housing options, and ensuring that its members age with dignity. The Donovan administration is committed to these goals and more.

Ultimately, Shaun promises the New York that we rebuild will surpass the city that existed before, guided by a collective effort to ground every policy and every program in advancing social equity.

We are committing to the following policies and programs:

Create an Equity Office and designate the city’s first Chief Equity Officer

The promise of rebuilding a city that guarantees equitable treatment of all persons is an all-hands-on-deck endeavor. Every agency, board, and commission in the Donovan administration will be implementing policies that place equity at the heart of their missions. 

However, Shaun knows from experience that the thousands of efforts across the city will need central coordination. To this end, Shaun has proposed creating an Equity Office that reports directly to the mayor, headed by a Chief Equity Officer who will be a member of the mayor’s cabinet. This officer will manage our city’s efforts to reach our equity goals by laying out a strategic pathway to success and developing the metrics to measure our progress.

Shaun’s creation of this office is a proactive step in dismantling the barriers of structural discrimination that face LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. Of course, in New York City it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on that person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Despite this important protection, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community still exists. The fruits of this poisonous tree include economic impairment and inhibited access to City services. 

The promise of Shaun’s Equity Office is its premise, that antidiscrimination laws are not enough. Protections on paper are meaningless without enforcement in practice. Shaun understands this. That’s why his vision for rebuilding a more equitable city relies on creating an office to craft demonstrable equity goals and a chief officer to reify them. 

Commit to contracting only with businesses that maintain a clear nondiscrimination policy that includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

New York City is expected to spend more than $20 billion on contracts for goods and services this year, 30% of which are expected to be awarded to Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs). Only too recently – as of this past January – have businesses owned by LGBTQ+ persons been able to qualify as minority-owned businesses for the purposes of the city’s contracting program. While this is a long overdue first step, Shaun believes that we can do more to promote women and minority-owned businesses. 

Shaun is committed to realizing the current administration’s unmet promise to allocate 30% of the city’s contracts to MWBEs. Moreover, in the Donovan administration, Shaun will direct the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services and the Department of Small Business Services to consider whether a business hoping to contract with the city has articulated a specific nondiscrimination policy or mission statement when awarding contracts among bidding vendors. In Shaun’s mind, it is the City’s prerogative to determine whether the businesses it contracts with share its commitment to celebrating diversity and promoting social equity

Rebuild a school system that cultivates an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion for LGBTQ+ students and educators

Our current crisis calls for a leader who has the drive to rebuild an education system that values and supports the unparalleled diversity of New York City and its students. Shaun believes that when schools make a conscious effort to celebrate the differences among our students, they take gigantic strides toward building a future where our citizens readily see each other’s common humanity.

Shaun’s Education platform calls for the incorporation of culturally responsive materials into students’ academic curriculum. This includes learning about queer figures from history and the LGBTQ+ community’s movement for civil rights. In amending our curricula this way, we allow our students to see how others like themselves have contributed to America’s history. More importantly, this kind of culturally responsive education will instill confidence in our students of their own identities. 

Relatedly, New York City’s schools are required to offer health classes that address sexual health. However, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, only a third of students report ever discussing what LGBTQ+ sexual health, relationships, or wellness look like. Failing to discuss these important aspects of queer relationships and health relegates them to second-class status and stigmatizes students who identify as LGBTQ+ or who are questioning their own identities. Shaun’s Department of Education will ensure that students receive a health education that discusses the needs of all persons and all relationships. 

Of course, curricular changes are not the only way to encourage greater inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in our city’s schools. Schools also play a critical role in the development of our children’s social skills. As such, schools have a duty to foster an atmosphere of inclusion and serve as a place where students feel safe and accepted. These values are embodied in the Dignity for All Students Act, which requires schools to have at least one staff member trained to respond to bullying and harassment. Unfortunately, too few students know of this resource and are able to identify their DASA officers. In the Donovan Administration, Shaun will direct the Department of Education’s chancellor to ensure that this information is readily accessible to students and parents

Shaun is also committed to ensuring that every school can meet the mental healthcare needs of its students. Shaun’s program reiterates activists’ call for a mental health continuum that provides care for students both inside and outside of school. By providing mental healthcare, Shaun’s Department of Education will allow students to safely address issues like stigmatization and cyberbullying, both of which lead to higher instances of depression among LGBTQ+ youth. 

Learn more about Shaun’s plan to build a school system that guarantees a quality education for every student and celebrates diversity in our Education platform. 

Invest in healthcare that addresses LGBTQ+ needs

COVID-19 has reminded us that our health impacts every facet of our lives and livelihoods: housing, jobs, mental health, safety, food insecurity, and education. But the coronavirus is not the only pandemic that exists in our city’s living memory, nor the only disease that we could do more to address. New York’s LGBTQ+ community was the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Even today, too many New Yorkers die because of a lack of leadership at our government’s highest levels.

Accordingly, Shaun knows that the path to rebuilding our city includes creating a healthcare system that works for every New Yorker. Today, too many New Yorkers – approximately 600,000 – lack access to health insurance and even more are enrolled in plans that do not cover their needs. Shaun’s plan to improve health coverage, which includes filling any gaps in federal- and state-level coverage through a New York City public option, will not leave the LGBTQ+ community and their specific needs behind.

For instance, Shaun is committed to ensuring that trans persons have access to healthcare that will cover transition-related operations and hormone therapies. Moreover, Shaun will take a twofold approach to continuing New York’s historic success in reducing the number of HIV diagnoses. First, Shaun will invest in proven harm reduction strategies such as clean syringe exchanges, access to STI testing, and community-based education about sexual health. Second, he will expand access to PrEP and PEP medications to reduce the spread of new infections. 

Learn more about Shaun’s plan to build a more resilient and effective healthcare system for New Yorkers in our Health Platform.

Recognize the uniqueness of LGBTQ+ families

COVID-19 has also prompted the country to think about the role that familial support plays in our wellbeing. For many LGBTQ+ persons across the country, shared biological genes are not a prerequisite for kinship. Instead, chosen families – relationships equally bound by love and care for one another – function as dependable sources of comfort and support. And in cases where biological families have rejected someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, chosen families assume an even more vital role in a person’s health and wellbeing. 

In the times of a pandemic, recognition of chosen families as legal families matters. According to a recent survey, less than half of LGBTQ+ Americans are likely to rely on biological family for support when sick, and fewer than one-third are likely to rely on a spouse to whom they are legally married. However, only recently have New Yorkers been able to use accrued sick time to care for chosen family members.

Shaun affirms the validity and importance of chosen families. But for Shaun, legal recognition of chosen families cannot stop with labor protections in the administrative code. Therefore, the Donovan administration will commit to reading benefits and protections for “families” to include chosen families as broadly as possible through the City’s laws and codes. 

Address the housing needs of LGBTQ+ youth and seniors

Homelessness and housing insecurity are problems acutely experienced by LGBTQ+ youth and seniors. Those who identify as LGBTQ+ make up approximately 40% of New York City’s homeless youth population, even though they represent only 7% of the youth population at large. For LGBTQ+ elders, as discussed more fully below, a lifetime of being denied the benefits of marriage and protection from antidiscrimination laws has left them with fewer economic and social resources than they would otherwise have. What’s more, LGBTQ+ elders are at risk of being turned away from independent or assisted-living centers, charged higher rates for such housing, and harassed while living there.

Shaun knows that every New Yorker deserves a safe and stable place to call home better than any other candidate in this race. Indeed, housing issues are the cornerstone of Shaun’s public service. He started his career at a nonprofit that promoted the construction of affordable housing. From there, he worked his way up to the two most demanding jobs in public housing: Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and then Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Obama’s Cabinet. 

Shaun’s housing and homelessness policies are premised on the notions that homelessness can’t be solved with homeless programs alone, and that just getting someone off the streets and into a bed is not enough. Housing-insecure persons, especially LGBTQ+ youth, require a culturally-affirming environment and a communal living structure that still affords a person privacy. Accordingly, Shaun’s ambitious housing agenda calls for a $2 billion annual investment in HPD to create new affordable housing programs and to expand existing programs, including the creation of 30,000+ affordable housing units per year. We will also make sure that additional health, education, and employment services are readily available in or near affordable housing and will make rental assistance more easily accessible, including to young people aging out of the foster system.

This connects to Shaun’s broader plan to create and fully implement a simple, client-focused process of placement of individuals and families who are homeless into safe, affordable permanent housing. Shaun’s plan also includes a commitment to expand New York City’s Universal Access to Counsel program. In doing so, qualified LGBTQ+ seniors will have greater recourse to free legal services to challenge unlaw discrimination they may fact by current or potential landlords. 

Learn more about Shaun’s plan to improve New York’s housing program in our Housing Platform.

Aging with Dignity

Decades of discrimination and the inability to live authentically have caused generations of LGBTQ+ persons to rely on limited social resources as they age. Today’s LGBTQ+ seniors continue to suffer from those past injustices, and, accordingly, they face different needs than their straight, cisgender peers.

For example, LGBTQ+ seniors are twice as likely to be single and living alone; they are four times less likely to have children, let alone rely on them for social support; and they experience higher rates of poverty. Relatedly, LGBTQ+ singles and couples often experience discrimination when seeking rental housing or long-term senior living care. Worse still, after working for decades for the right to live as out and proud members of society, LGBTQ+ elders are prone to hiding their true selves when they join senior housing to avoid hostility and stigmatization

This is a generation that marched against police brutality at Stonewall, survived the AIDS epidemic with too little assistance from their government, and settled for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a political victory. It is also the same generation that saw the Defense of Marriage Act struck down, marriage equality become the law of the land, and a gay man launch a viable campaign for President of the United States. In short, today’s LGBTQ+ elderly have lived through the highest highs and lowest lows of queer history in America. For them to spend their twilight years back in the closet is an affront to their personal dignity and their contributions to our country.

To start, Shaun’s Bill of Rights for Aging New Yorkers will ensure that all of New York’s elderly community’s needs are acknowledged and fulfilled. The Donovan administration, moreover, will ensure that LGBTQ+ seniors in community-living arrangements are aware of and have access to the protections afforded to them under state and local laws, including what they can do if they encounter discrimination. Shaun also commits to ensuring that the training that New York’s elderly care staffers receive includes an awareness of and sensitivity to LGBTQ+-specific issues. Accordingly, the Donovan administration will expect every senior living arrangement to offer an LGBTQ+-affirming environment.

And, Shaun is adamant that LGBTQ+ veterans be assured of their benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Over 100,000 service members have been discharged with less than honorable status because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In the Donovan administration, veterans who were less than honorably discharged solely because of their sexual orientation or identity will be fully eligible to participate in any program that the City otherwise makes available to veterans. Shaun will also direct the City’s Department of Veteran Services to assist all veterans who are seeking to change their discharge status because they were discharged on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Learn more about Shaun’s plan to support New York’s seniors in our Aging Platform.

Reimagining the Economy as an Engine that Drives Social Equity

The coming election presents an opportunity for New Yorkers to take a proactive role in choosing which values will shape the city’s future. The immediate recovery is important, and we must utilize it to not just rebuild our city, but set New York on a transformative path for radical equity.

We need to meet this moment. We need a city committed to using its power and resources to ensure a fair playing field for everyone. This includes a commitment to economic and social equity because every resident deserves a fair chance at earning a decent living and the right to be treated with respect and dignity. For the LGBTQ+ community, this means having a mayor who will proudly champion its visibility and use the mechanisms of government to respond to its particular needs. 

In the Donovan administration, Shaun will not commit merely to the aggressive pursuit of these values. Shaun envisions grafting these principles into the very way we do business. 

We are committing to the following policies and programs:

Appoint diverse voices to New York’s leadership positions

Mayoral appointments present a unique opportunity to ensure that voices from underrepresented communities have a seat at the table. New York City’s mayor is responsible for making appointments to over 300 boards and commissions. What’s more, the mayor appoints judges to criminal, family, and civil courts who will resolve New Yorkers’ claims within the justice system. When people of the same backgrounds and life experiences make decisions for the rest of the city, echoes of discrimination and non-inclusive policies reverberate among not only LGBTQ+ New Yorkers but every minority community. As such, it is vital that New York’s mayor use this opportunity to appoint leaders who reflect the citizens in the country’s most diverse city.

Shaun knows that effective policymaking cannot happen without input from people of diverse perspectives. When he was New York’s Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development, he surrounded himself with stakeholders in the various communities who would be affected by his policy decisions. He continued this leadership style at the federal level when he served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. For Shaun, effective leadership simply cannot exist without first hearing from a diverse set of voices.

To this end, Shaun already has plans to promote diversity within New York’s leadership positions. Shaun will restructure the mayor’s cabinet by creating a Chief Equity Officer to ensure that a broad range of gender identities and expressions as well as minority communities, including the LGBTQ+ persons, participate in the post-pandemic economy recovery of our city. And when it comes to appointments, Shaun is committed to making New Yorkers of various races, classes, national origins, and sexual identities a visible presence throughout the ranks of our city’s leadership

Modernize demographic data collection of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers

Shaun’s plan for rebuilding New York’s infrastructure starts from the simple premise that effective policies require good data. We have to know what the problems are before we build the solutions. That same premise holds true for devising programs that address the needs of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. 

When it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, data collection techniques either reflect antiquated notions of sex and gender or do not account for the complexity of queer identities. Gender identity and sexual orientation simply cannot be measured with mere binary choices such as “male or female,” “straight or gay.” 

The Donovan administration will ensure that New York’s agencies and service providers request demographic information in a way that accounts for the complexity of LGBTQ+ identity. Of course, a one-size-fits-all approach will not return the kinds of information relevant to each municipal entity. Therefore, Shaun will call on every stakeholder to review and implement methods that will yield more precise and relevant information about the sexual orientation and gender identity of citizens who utilize their services. Moreover, program administrators must be able to understand how to utilize this data to inform their efforts in providing services to LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.

Importantly, Shaun knows that some situations call for discretion or place LGBTQ+ persons in an uncomfortable position. For example, a person should not be required to disclose their LGBTQ+ status on a job application, particularly in instances where a person is still questioning their identity or fears discrimination. While discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal in the city, LGBTQ+ persons nonetheless have a right to keep this information private. As such, Shaun believes that providing this information should be optional whenever it is immaterial to the service being offered.

Revitalize LGBTQ+ spaces in the wake of the pandemic

The burden imposed by New York’s shutdown in March 2020 cannot be measured merely by economic indicia. When, for example, Broadway and the city’s nightlife shut their doors, LGBTQ+ New Yorkers lost their recourse to spaces that have historically welcomed the queer community with open arms. The LGBTQ+ community relies on such dedicated spaces to celebrate their identities and exist with their peers without prejudice. Accordingly, losing access to these venues has cut off a social lifeline for too many. 

Shaun is dedicated to bringing back New York’s nightlife – and the queer spaces within it – responsibly and restoring them to their former glory. He believes LGBTQ+ New Yorkers are a valued part of New York’s cultural heritage, that these spaces must be protected and preserved, and that their recovery is part of our overall critical effort to revitalize our tourism and nightlife industries

Learn more about Shaun’s effort to rebuild the city’s cultural life and its arts industry in our Arts & Culture Platform.

Ensure that the economy that returns is an inclusive one

New York is a city that ceaselessly reinvents and improves itself. It has weathered tough storms, often metaphorical but even literal ones, and its economy has always come back stronger than before. But to build a fundamentally better economy – one that values equity and rewards hard work –will take careful planning, dedication to seeking out and learning from marginalized voices, and tireless leadership. Shaun is up to this task. 

For too long, structural discrimination has erected barriers-to-entry that excluded minorities like the LGBTQ+ community from starting their own businesses or sharing in New York’s economic prowess. Shaun doesn’t just know that these barriers are morally repugnant, he also knows that they have kept LGBTQ+ New Yorkers from reaching their full economic potential. The opportunity to dismantle these barriers is now, at the moment of New York’s economic reconstitution. 

Principally, Shaun’s economic plan includes creating an Equity Office that strengthens the resources available to LGBTQ+-owned businesses. Shaun will also launch equity corporate commitments to ensure that the city’s employers prioritize equitable employment and compensation across all minority groups. Shaun’s plan even calls for the creation of a Jobs Corps, which will remedy the misalignment between job seekers’ experiences, the skills that training and education providers offer, and the needs of employers. 

Learn more about our efforts to infuse the city’s economic recovery efforts with principles of equity in our Economic Development Platform.

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