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Ensuring Access for LGBT Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence and Stalking
September 30, 2013 Posted by

Tomorrow, October 1, the grant-related provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 take effect. 

OVW is looking forward to implementing these provisions during the FY 2014 award cycle, including measures that will strengthen our national response to sexual assault, focus attention on reducing domestic violence homicides, and recognize the needs of younger girls who are victimized.  You will hear more from us on these issues in the coming months, as OVW issues its FY 2014 solicitations and related guidance to our grantee community. 

With this post, I would like to single out one historic provision in the new Act.  For the first time in any federal funding statute, VAWA 2013 recognizes the civil rights of LGBT victims and survivors by explicitly prohibiting VAWA grantees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  This groundbreaking provision will ensure that LGBT victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating violence and stalking are not denied, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, access to the critical services that OVW supports. 

We realize that victim service providers and other OVW grantees may have questions about how this new nondiscrimination provision may affect the way they run their programs and serve victims.  The Department is developing answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” and guidance will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, I know that many of you are eager to improve the way you serve the LGBT population. To learn more about how to provide effective and culturally competent services to LGBT victims and survivors, please consider contacting the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP).  With funding from OVW, NCAVP’s Training and Technical Assistance Center is available to provide education and technical assistance on this subject to OVW grantees.  For more information, you can reach NCAVP as follows: 

T&TA Center:  http://avp.org/resources/training-center
Toll-free warmline:  1-855-AVP-LGBT (1-855-287-5428) (Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST)
Deaf/Hard of hearing accessible instant messaging (IM): AVPlgbt
E-mail: info@ncavp.org

As always, if you have particular thoughts or ideas, I would urge you to participate in the Office’s ongoing conferral process, which is designed to allow you to provide your input to OVW.  The schedule for our conferral calls can be found on our website at http://blogs.justice.gov/ovw/archives/2427 

I look forward to collaborating with all of you as we continue work to ensure that our response to domestic and sexual violence recognizes and includes LGBT victims and survivors and their unique needs.