Hetrick-Martin Institute Issues Statement Regarding Capitol Insurrection
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 12, 2021, NEW YORK, NY
For more than forty years, Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) has been a pioneer in the provision of comprehensive mental health services for LGBTQIA+ youth, mostly of color, who face multiple crises–many struggling with homelessness, hunger, family rejection, and violence. These young people are often ostracized and rendered invisible based on their race, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Supporting the well-being of our youth requires that HMI recognize that the unique challenges they face are inextricably linked to systems of oppression, including those of racism, violence, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia.
Based on a clear understanding of the synergy between direct service and policy, HMI’s Advocacy and Capacity Building Department was established to help facilitate the removal of the systemic barriers which negatively impact the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth. A key component of our policy work includes increasing the awareness of community-based providers of the structural barriers faced by our youth, as well as challenging government agencies and social service leaders to enact policies mitigating and disrupting these barriers.
Images from last week’s insurgency at the United States Capitol instilled fear into the hearts and minds of people across this country, including the youth we serve, whose mere existence is a challenge to antiquated systems and ways of thinking. The brandishing of a Confederate flag in the halls of Congress by an armed militia had the unequivocal aim of asserting that this country is only for a certain group of people to enjoy, and that, through means of intimidation and violence, it will remain so. Added to this are the released videos of a Black officer being threatened in the hallways of the Capitol, and the brazen display of hangman nooses. As an organization, we are forced to grapple with the impact these images will have on the young people we serve. We cannot but take note of how this incident was handled in comparison to the protests of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others last year. Our young people and other marginalized communities know from historical experience that if the complexions of those who breached the entryways of our nation’s Capital had been Black or Brown, there would have been far more casualties than those tragically experienced.
HMI believes that government—beyond issuing deserved condemnation—must commit to establishing programs that are unwaveringly and unapologetically anti-oppressive. Specifically, we urge the Biden Administration to reverse the current ban on race sensitivity training for government agencies and federal contractors. These trainings put us on a unifying and healing path by bringing people together through fostering a deep understanding of our common humanity, even as we celebrate our differences. HMI remains steadfast in its purpose of ensuring a world for LGBTQIA+ youth that is free from violence and harm, and one where people can stand firmly in their power and dignity, just as they are.
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About Hetrick-Martin Institute
Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) is proud to be the nation’s oldest and largest organization helping gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) youth between the ages of 13 and 24 to reach their full potential. Through a comprehensive package of direct services and referrals, the organization fosters healthy youth development. HMI’s staff promotes excellence in the delivery of youth services and uses its expertise to create innovative programs that other organizations may use as models. HMI serves a diverse community, the vast majority of whom identify as Black or people of color. The youth organization is dedicated to building its approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels, throughout its operations and functions.