By FRANK ELTMAN
Advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youths are putting an emphasis on those living in suburban and rural communities at a national leadership summit being held this week outside New York City.
“People often think of GLBT Centers as urban organizations, but critical and groundbreaking work is being done in suburban and rural regions throughout our nation,” said David Kilmnick, CEO of the Long Island GLBT Services Network, which is playing host to the summit run by CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers.
The summit is now in its seventh year. Previous ones have been held in Portland, Ore.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Las Vegas; Milwaukee; Richmond, Va.; and Philadelphia.
“We are thrilled to show our partners from across the country the great programmatic, coalition building and organizing work that is happening in our Long Island community,” Kilmnick said.
The summit, to be held at the organization’s Garden City offices, will include representatives from 52 GLBT centers around the country, as well as from Canada and Australia.
Kilmneck stressed the importance of expanding GLBT services to suburban and rural settings.
“A gay kid in New York City can hop on a subway train and get to a place where he can get services. The need out here is even greater, where the bus system is poor at best and it’s not so easy to get around,” he said. “In the suburbs, it’s important to have the services where kids can find them.”
Other topics at the summit will include the renewed increase in HIV cases and how President Barack Obama’s health overhaul could affect the GLBT community.