News & Stories

Protected and Served 233 274

Protected and Served

A significant part of our long struggle to achieve equal dignity and rights as LGBTQ+ people has been to enact and advance equal protections under the law. The folks attacking us at Stonewall over 50 years ago were not random thugs. They were police officers. And while we’ve come a long, long way since then, many of us know firsthand that we still have a long way to go. But, even when we have allies in positions to create and advance public policy (which, itself, requires constant vigilance these days), it is increasingly difficult to make any progress without robust data underpinning your arguments. We know inherently that LGBTQ+ people receive disparate treatment under the law, but it is crucial to quantify that disparity in a way that helps both LGBTQ+ policy-makers and our allies make the best decisions for our community. Enter Lambda Legal, and the 2022 Protected and Served report. Funded in part by a Leonard Litz Advocacy Grant, the report builds on Lambda’s groundbreaking work in 2012 exploring government misconduct and harm by police, prisons, school security, and courts against LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV in the U.S. As the report notes, “Our hope is…

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No LGB Without the T 249 280

No LGB Without the T

It feels frustrating, alarming, and sad, and scary that this still needs to be said in 2023, but here we go, once again, for the record: Trans. Rights. Are. Human. Rights. Some so-called “leaders” throughout the country have decided that the transgender community makes an easy target as political pawns in their hate-filled culture wars. Which is why it is more important than ever for the LGBTQ+ community and our allies to stand up boldly on behalf of our transgender family. Allies like Senators Megan Hunt and Machaela Cavanaugh of Nebraska, whose courageous stand in the legislature led to every single bill being filibustered until an insidious proposal blocking gender-affirming healthcare for youth is dropped. They know as well as we do: There is no LGB without the T. Do not for a second delude yourself into thinking that this attack on the transgender community is “not your fight.” These zealots have no love for cis-identified gays and lesbians, either. Already your favorite drag queens are being targeted in places like Tennessee and Arizona. Legislators in Iowa this year proposed a ban on same-sex marriage. And Florida’s now infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law has spawned copycat legislation in more than a…

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Leonard Litz Goes on the Road 280 316

Leonard Litz Goes on the Road

Three years in to our work of supporting nonprofit organizations that protect and uplift the LGBTQ+ community, one lesson has become especially clear:  there is more work to be done in this movement than any one organization can do alone. To that end, we at the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation have been grateful for the opportunity to convene with other like-minded individuals and organizations in our community to share best practices, discuss capacity-building, and collaborate on ways to enhance our collective impact by working together. In February, Leonard Litz traveled to San Francisco, CA, to take part in our first ever Creating Change Conference, hosted by The National LGBTQ Task Force. In addition to attending seminars about effective community-building and trans-specific outreach, we invited attendees to the inaugural Leonard Litz Leadership Reception, which provided a fun and educational opportunity for LGBTQ+ nonprofit professionals to network, amplify their work, and elevate their own potential. With a focus on  heart-centered leadership, we hope to work toward a future where our community’s leaders are equipped for both organizational success as well as self-compassion. Huge thank you to Jacob Rudolph of The Pride Network for his collaboration on the event production. In April, Executive…

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Welcome, Robyn! 172 214

Welcome, Robyn!

The Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation is pleased to introduce our newest Trustee, Robyn Schlesinger! Robyn is an attorney who has worked extensively with the LGBTQIA+ community, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education, and currently serves as the Director of LGBTQIA+ Programs, Resources, Innovation, Development & Engagement (PRIDE) for WJCS and Center Lane. She joins the Foundation at a critical time for our community, and is, in her words, “really excited about building on what Leonard Litz has already started.” Robyn’s career in nonprofit/higher education development and law has included senior management roles with the University of California, Berkeley, Westchester Community College, and Western Connecticut State University.  She is a director with The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center in White Plains, and serves on Westchester County’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, the Westchester County Police Reform Task Force, and the 9th Judicial District Access to Justice LGBTQ+ Subcommittee. Robyn was graduated from Harvard College with an AB cum laude, received her JD from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and her EdD from Manhattanville College. Please join us in welcoming Robyn to the Leonard Litz family!

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Happy Always, from Elliot and Roger 305 305

Happy Always, from Elliot and Roger

A little over two years ago, we had the idea of starting a Foundation with the goal of supporting nonprofit organizations that offer programs and services addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in our diverse LGBTQ+ community. We knew that, no matter the level, every single gesture of support can make a tremendous difference to so many community-based organizations. We believe that even more passionately today. We’ve had the privilege of meeting amazing leaders and advocates from over a dozen states, and learning about the ways in which they all work to protect the safety, equality, and well-being of our community. We are grateful for their activism, and proud to count them as partners in this work. What we didn’t necessarily foresee is just how personal this work would be. We have both led rewarding lives. We’ve had our ups and downs, but always managed to persevere and thrive through a combination of wits and luck. And with a little help from our friends. Friends like the City University of New York, which offered opportunities for future success for a young Jewish kid from Brooklyn. Friends like the fine people at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), colloquially known as…

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Celebrating LGBTQ+ Native Americans 326 315

Celebrating LGBTQ+ Native Americans

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let us also celebrate and honor our country’s rich indigenous history and experience as part of Native American Heritage Month. While we have made some progress in decolonizing Thanksgiving and at least acknowledging the decimation of native people by early Europeans, LGBTQ+ Native Americans are too often sidelined and invisible in the narrative of queer culture. Just as LGBTQ+ History Month is an opportunity to celebrate all facets of our shared experience, including its intersections with Native culture, Native American Heritage Month lets us do the same from an LGBTQ+ perspective. Our LGBTQ+ experience simply would not be the same without the contributions and impact of so many LGBTQ+ Native Americans. Here are some very diverse examples. While Pete Puttigieg made headlines and history in his trailblazing presidential primary, LGBTQ+ Native Americans have quietly been making historic strides of their own in the political arena. In 2018, for example, Chelsey Branham became the first openly-LGBTQ+ member of the Chickasaw Nation to be elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and in 2020, Stephanie Byers’s election to the Kansas House of Representatives made her the first transgender Native American…

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Elections Matter—More Than Ever! 306 306

Elections Matter—More Than Ever!

They’re still counting to the very last vote in some places, but at this point it has become clear that some of the most dire predictions about this year’s midterm elections have not come to pass. Bucking historical trends, President Biden may end up with a slightly larger Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, with the GOP poised to retake the House only by a razor-thin margin. Considering what the outcome may have been, the Democrats are counting this as a major win. For most of the LGBTQ+ community, it is a narrow escape from certain disaster. This summer, after the conservative-leaning Supreme Court overturned decades of precedent protecting a woman’s right to choose to have a baby or not, Justice Thomas sent a clear signal that precedents protecting the right to privacy in our sex lives and the right to marriage equality were potential next targets. Having leaders in the executive and legislative branches of government dedicated to protecting those rights is crucial. Already this week, we’ve been pleased to see the Senate take initial action on a bill known as the Respect for Marriage Act, which would preemptively codify protections for people in same-sex marriages (and interracial marriages,…

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Exploring LGBTQ+ Identity and Race 366 284

Exploring LGBTQ+ Identity and Race

One of our core priorities at the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation is Racial Justice. We are proud to support programs and services that specifically address the inequalities faced by LGBTQ+ people of color. So supporting this new fellowship from the Washngton Blade Foundation was a natural fit. The LGBTQ+ community is not a monolith, but rather a cosmic rainbow of intersecting identities. This fellowship helps to explore and spread awareness of this diversity by supporting journalism that focuses on stories at the intersection of LGBTQ+ identities and race. Our struggles are impossible to separate—quite literally for many people. Let’s not forget, people of color were the ones leading the fight at Stonewall. We cannot build a whole future if we only tell half our history. The Blade has already welcomed its inaugural fellow, Brandie Bland, whose first story, copied below, examines the unique challenges faced by communities of color when it comes to coming out of the closet. “The visibility of queer sexuality in Black culture can be traced back to the Harlem Renaissance, where literature and music were full of stories about lived queer experiences,” writes Brandie. “And non-binary identities have always been visible and integrated in some communities…

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Grantee Spotlight: Odyssey Teen Camp 436 327

Grantee Spotlight: Odyssey Teen Camp

This summer, our friends at Odyssey Teen Camp invited the Leonard Litz team to visit their campground, meet some campers, and learn more about the work being done to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all young people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. It was a  heartwarming opportunity to see in person so many teenagers being themselves and just having fun. We arrived just as some campers were building the stage and making preparations for that night’s improv show. We rode golf carts throughout the beautiful campground, which features multiple entertainment and activity spaces, a wooded amphitheater, and an expansive lake for water sports and swimming. The mission of Odyssey teen Camp is to provide teenagers with a safe and loving place to express themselves, exactly as they are. For LGBTQ+ youth, this experience can be life-changing, and sometimes even life-saving. After seeing the joy and positivity radiating from every face, we at the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation remain grateful for their efforts to make a meaningful difference in the lives of so many young people.

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In the News: LLF Names First Advocacy Fund Recipient 396 326

In the News: LLF Names First Advocacy Fund Recipient

In case you missed the news: The Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation is proud to name the first recipient from our new LGBTQ+ Advocacy Fund, and it’s a familiar name: CenterLink. Their application was a perfect fit. Our Foundation was created to help LGBTQ+ people achieve their full potential by supporting nonprofit organizations of all sizes that advance the interests and well-being of our community, particularly the most vulnerable in our community, including people of color and the transgender community. CenterLink’s ActionLink program helps LGBTQ+ community centers and other LGBTQ-friendly organizations navigate 501(c)(3) policy and advocacy issues at local, state, and national levels. Most nonprofit organizations want to do policy work but don’t have the funding or staff to do it. ActionLink gives them the tools to focus on advocacy, education, and organization in a meaningful and effective way. We are incredibly proud to partner with CenterLink in this important work. Our strength is in our numbers, and this level of coordinated advocacy is more necessary now than ever. Please see the text of the press release below: Leonard-Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation Approves Multi-Year Grant to Support CenterLink’s Advocacy Program Fort Lauderdale, FL – CenterLink, the world’s largest LGBTQ community-based association, today…

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