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Ensuring LGBTQ Equality

The Biden Foundation and the YMCA of the USA


From Community Focus to Nationwide Impact

Brought together through the shared belief that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, the Biden Foundation and YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) have embarked on a three-year partnership to foster LGBTQ equality in communities across the country.

This work will build on Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden’s commitment to equality and the Biden Foundation mission to change the culture by tapping existing networks and institutions to support, serve, and advocate for LGBTQ people.


Read the full op-ed by Vice President Biden and Kevin Washington.

The Need

Despite tremendous progress in the fight for equality over the last decade, many members of the LGBTQ community still experience discrimination, harassment, rejection, and physical violence on a daily basis. LGBTQ youth are especially at risk: They are more likely to experience homelessness, interact with the juvenile justice and foster care systems, and have disproportionately higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation than their non-LGBTQ peers.

Regardless of a person’s age, race, national origin, income, background, sexual orientation or gender identity, everyone deserves the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive.

This is why the Biden Foundation and Y-USA have come together – to begin to change our culture to one of greater equality and equity by building flourishing communities that treat everyone with equal dignity.  

The Work

In year one, select YMCA locations across the U.S. – chosen for their geographic diversity, size, membership composition, and organizational readiness for LGBTQ inclusion and equity – will work with the Biden Foundation and Y-USA to develop and implement locally focused strategies to ensure that each local Y is serving its LGBTQ members and surrounding community in the best possible way.  

In the first year, the initial select group of Ys will:

  • Identify and understand the needs of local LGBTQ community members.
  • Assess facilities and policies to ensure they welcome and affirm LGBTQ individuals and families.
  • Collaborate with local businesses, community leaders, and LGBTQ-serving organizations.
  • Train leaders to foster a culture of support, connection, and inclusivity.
  • Strengthen capacity to serve LGBTQ members through innovative programming.
  • Demonstrate to LGBTQ people and families, as well as allies and organizations, that the Y is a safe and welcoming space for all.

In years two and three, the best practices and tools developed by the initial group of Ys will be disseminated to YMCAs nationwide.

Why the Y?

The YMCA is a community-based organization unparalleled in its reach and impact. With 2,700 YMCAs in 10,000 communities across the country, the Y serves 13 million adults and 9 million children annually. Since its inception, the Y has been committed to addressing the diverse needs of underserved populations and has had a deep and widespread impact on our nation in times of profound social change. Its membership reflects the social fabric of the country, spanning age, gender, immigration and socioeconomic status, geography, race, religion, and sexual orientation and gender identity.

The YMCA’s inclusive mission and commitment to helping all people and communities thrive drives this national LGBTQ inclusion and equity effort. Together, through this partnership, we will work to enhance the capacity of the Y to serve LGBTQ youth and adults and to change our culture to one of greater inclusion, empathy, and understanding in communities across the country.