By Rebecca Gonedes, MSW, LSW,
During Pride Month, Safe+Sound Somerset is proud to share how we work to make LGBTQ+ individuals – and everyone else who comes to us for safety, healing and hope – feel accepted. Following is a list of some of the ways and things we do to make the LGBTQ+ community feel welcome:
- First and foremost, we strive to be non-judgmental, allowing clients to tell us how they identify and share their experience as an LGBTQ+ individual, rather than making assumptions.
- We provide an affirmative, inclusive, and respectful environment for all clients.
- We treat all clients fairly and provide equal access to services, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.
- We recognize, understand and tackle the unique challenges that LGBTQ+ survivors face, including the use of LGBTQ+ status as a means of control (e.g., being outed to family, work, etc.).
- We use inclusive and gender-neutral language both in speech and in paperwork.
- We ask open-ended questions to not exclude identification types (such as sexual orientation, gender identity, gender at birth, etc.)
- We provide written Client Rights outlining the client’s right to freedom from discrimination based on many criteria, including sexual orientation/preference.
- We have developed and employed non-gendered and a Same-Sex Power and Control Wheels and utilize LGBTQ+ specific DV resources to address all relationship types.
- We provide ongoing training of staff on topics including special considerations for diverse populations, expanded knowledge about sexual orientation and gender identity, and more.
- We are one of the few DV organizations in New Jersey providing emergency shelter to all, and our Safe House includes non-gendered restrooms.
- We provide a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ clients at our facilities with unisex restrooms, posting of the organization’s non-discrimination policy, and more!
Anyone who is in need of support related to experiencing domestic violence, including those who identify as LGBTQ+ can contact Safe+Sound Somerset’s 24/7 call and text hotline at 866-685-1122 to access our extensive services. Information is also available at www.safe-sound.org.