A Reliable Resource, A Supportive Peer Network, A Helping Hand
NASW-NYC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Committee
Scott A. Kramer, LMSW, Prevention Social Worker, Youth Enrichment Services, LGBT Community Center and Amanda A. Saake, LMSW, Program Coordinator, Harm Reduction Program, Citizens Advice Bureau; Co-Chairs, NASW-NYC LGBT Committee
Initially formed as a social club for gay and lesbian social workers over 30 years ago, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Committee serves to advocate for affirmative social services for LGBT populations and provide peer support for LGBT social workers. Since many of our early members were not out at work, the Committee’s interactions with the Chapter were few. As broad social changes in anti-discrimination legislation protecting LGBT individuals have taken effect, more members have come out in their workplace and the Committee is now strongly allied with the Chapter.
LGBT social workers contribute across all fields of practice and populations within the profession. As members of an oppressed sexual and/or gender minority, we are uniquely qualified to uphold the standards of the profession and work toward social justice. As such, LGBT social workers often become advocates for competent treatment of LGBT and other minority clients within their organizations. Many LGBT social workers entered the field through volunteerism and activism during the early days of the AIDS pandemic, as peer counselors in LGBT-affirmative service settings, or as clients themselves who wanted to give back to the community that helped them heal the wounds of social oppression. The Committee, like the population it represents, is diverse in its talents and strengths.
After recent strategic planning, the LGBT Committee continues to thrive. Our membership meets from
6:30-8:00 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month during the academic year, September to May, at the LGBT Community Center. Additionally, we have a volunteer Steering Committee whose goals include planning and advertising Committee events.
With over 200 members on our listserver (visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lgbtnasw/join to join), including a large number of current social work students, and an average meeting attendance of twenty persons, the Committee is at a pivotal place to do amazing things.
Our diverse membership has a myriad of professional interests and works with youth, the elderly, persons with mental illness, issues related to substance use, intimate partner violence, persons living with HIV/AIDS, international affairs, policy, social justice, and development, among many other issues and populations. The common thread that weaves this diverse community together is a dedication to the individuals, families, groups, and communities we serve as well as a shared investment in the LGBT and questioning community. We welcome all LGBT social workers and non-LGBT identified allies to unite with us in our shared investment as members of the social work profession.
The LGBT Committee’s mission is:
“To provide LGBT social workers and social work students with a peer network that promotes connection, positive interaction and mutual support; to celebrate the contributions LGBT social workers make to the profession; to provide continuing education in order to empower social workers to better serve the needs of LGBT clients and expand their clinical and community based practice; to promote social justice on behalf of LGBT people; and to support research that contributes to the existing body of social work knowledge with an emphasis on LGBT cultural competency.”
Going forward we will plan exciting and diverse monthly meetings with guest speakers and topics important to our community and the clients we serve, advocate for rights and protections for LGBT social workers and social work students, and increase the use of our online group to foster communication among members that are unable to attend monthly meetings.
We will look and think “outside the box” to make our committee the best it can be for all of our members in the months and years to come.