On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released an action plan to promote safety, acceptance, and inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people in Seattle.
“Seattle has long been a place where everyone can find an accepting and tolerant home,” said Mayor Murray. “We celebrate our history of advancing equity for the LGBTQ community and we will support efforts to make Seattle even more inclusive. Thank you to the task force for identifying these actions to reduce the violent attacks and verbal harassment experienced by LGBTQ people.”
The plan, developed from recommendations from the mayor’s LGBTQ Task Force, identifies four areas of focus: public safety, LGBTQ youth, the built environment, and public understanding. The Mayor’s Office has begun to implement many of these recommendations, and identifies the following as highlights of the plan:
- The city will direct more resources to support Project EQTY, which works to improve agencies’ work with LGBTQ young people experiencing homelessness.
- The Human Services Department will improve rapid rehousing programs and increase access to hotel vouchers for transgender youth experiencing homelessness (who experience a disproportionately high risk of violence).
- Adopt a new city ordinance to require that single-person restrooms in public accommodations and facilities be marked with gender-inclusive signage.
- The Seattle Office for Civil Rights will launch a campaign to educate Seattle residents about the concerns and rights of LGBTQ individuals.
- The Seattle Police Department will identify local businesses to shelter victims of harassment until officers arrive, as well as develop officer training to inform their interaction with LGBTQ people.
- The Department of Neighborhoods will seek and use matching fund grants from LGBTQ organizations to support projects that promote LGBTQ safety.
The announcement comes midway through a year of increased anti-LGBTQ crime in the city. According to the the mayors office, 41 anti-LGBTQ hate-based crimes or incidents were reported to Seattle police in the first seven months of 2015. That’s a 46% increase from 2014, during which 28 were reported in first seven months of the year.
“We want to thank Mayor Ed Murray for bringing together a broad cross-section of LGBTQ community leaders to address these important issues,” said Monisha Harrell, Chair of Equal Rights Washington and Co-Chair of the LGBTQ Task Force. “Although diverse in experience, perspective and opinion, each task force member was committed to achieving our end goal of improving public safety. The Mayor and his team have done a terrific job of bringing all of the voices at the table to develop a plan that is realistic in making a difference. We greatly appreciate their commitment and work.”