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Senator Laphonza Butler Visits the Center, Providing Lens into Federal LGBTQ+ Initiatives

The Los Angeles LGBT Center welcomed U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler for a tour of its Anita May Rosenstein Campus on Friday, providing her with an overview of the Center’s programs and services and highlighting some of the key policy priorities that will have the biggest impact on the LGBTQ+ community in the months ahead.

In a meeting with Center CEO Joe Hollendoner, Chief Impact Officer Terra Russell-Slavin, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kaiyti Duffy, Butler heard about some of the key policy issues facing the Center in coming years, including imminent cuts to federal Victims of Crime Act funding for survivors of domestic violence and anti-LGBTQ+ policies being introduced in school districts across the country.

The tour began with an overview of the campus Youth Center, which opens its doors seven days a week to youth throughout Los Angeles, offering a safe and affirming space to gather, as well as access to the full range of services offered at the Center, including housing assistance, legal services, and more. 

Youth are also able to access showers, clothing, laundry, and three hot meals a day, prepared by students of the Culinary Arts Program.

Butler met with members of Youth Services staff, including staff at the Center’s Youth Academy, which provides a wide range of educational opportunities, including a GED and high school diploma program at an on-site charter high school, vocational training, and more. She also received a tour of the recording studio that hosts the Center’s music fellowship and the clothing closet where youth can check out pieces to wear for job interviews and professional headshots.

The Senator met staff members who have dedicated their careers to serving LGBTQ+ youth—including some whose tenures span 10 years or more. She learned about the needs of their programs, as well as upcoming plans and hopes for future expansion. 

Asked why she’s chosen to stay at the Center for so many years, Mandy Litwin, Associate Director of the Youth Academy, replied, “There’s no better place to do this work.”

During a tour of the Center’s state-of-the-art kitchen—where students of the Culinary Arts Program were learning how to prepare fried rice—Butler learned about the groundbreaking intergenerational vocational track, which provides 300 hours of hands-on training to LGBTQ+ youth and seniors before helping to place them in professional externships throughout the city.

Photos by Jordan Doyel
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