LGBT Law Project at NYLAG: First of Its Kind

This past September, with generous funding from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and the Chuck Goldman Family Supporting Foundation, NYLAG launched the LGBT Law Project, headed by Virginia Goggin. This project, the first of its kind, is designed to reach out to the low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities who are traditionally underserved and are in need of legal assistance.

In order to ensure effective outreach, the LGBT Law Project has partnered with the NYC Anti-Violence Project (AVP) and Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ) to expand NYLAG’s outreach to at-risk clients. The LGBT Law Project serves as the legal arm to AVP which regularly sees clients from the LGBT and HIV positive communities who have been victims of a bias crime or domestic violence and are in need of legal counsel. Virginia has paired up specifically with QEJ’s Shelter Organizing Project which holds ongoing support groups at homeless shelters throughout the five boroughs for LGBT and gender non-conforming (GNC) people. Furthermore, the LGBT Law Project is co-sponsoring an upcoming evening session on “Tools for Life and Financial Planning for LBT Women” at the LGBT Community Center along with Lambda Legal, Las Buenas Amigas, Lesbian AIDS Project, and QEJ. In just three months of existence, NYLAG’s LGBT Law Project is already energized and doing exciting work.

Jay Toole, the Shelter Organizer at QEJ, stated, “There are more than 35,000 homeless people in New York City on any given day and approximately 10% of these people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. These folks are especially vulnerable and will benefit greatly from having a legal service that is queer focused and friendly.” NYLAG and Virginia are dedicated to helping the largely underserved communities on the streets, in shelters and homes, address important legal needs that have gone unanswered due to discrimination based on gender orientation or lack of resources.

Specific fields in which the project provides representation and consultation include second parent or joint adoption, legal name changes, orders of protection, assistance with public benefits including food stamps, Medicaid, Social Security and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), landlord and tenant disputes, and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity including in public housing, homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters.

Virginia, who received a 2-year Orrick Fellowship to develop the LGBT Law Project, graduated from New York Law School in May 2008 after receiving the 2007 Joseph Soloman Public Service Fellowship. She graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University with a double major in Political Science and Women’s Studies. Virginia has a long line of experience in public service, working as an AmeriCorps service member in a lowincome housing community for two years in Columbus, OH. Previously, Virginia interned at NYLAG’s Domestic Violence Clinical Center. NYLAG is proud to welcome Virginia back to its staff and thrilled to support her as she develops this much needed legal project.

For more information on this project, please e-mail [email protected] or contact Virginia Goggin at 212. 613. 5000 x 5107.