Explore our health & wellness work:

Tobacco Cessation

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States. Smoking can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. According to the CDC, 20.5% of LGB adults smoke cigarettes, compared to 15.3% of straight adults.

Learn more about GSE’s tobacco cessation efforts here.

Map and Expand

Garden State Equality is partnering with the Rutgers School of Public Health to map and expand LGBTQ-affirming healthcare providers across New Jersey, and we are building a website portal where you can find easily find them.

With our Map and Expand project, we’re going to find the health service providers who treat us with the most respect, and literally map out where they are in the state. We’re going to get in touch with all of them, and—doctors, therapists, other direct service providers, and activists working together—figure out what policy changes and advocacy efforts we need to make sure all health service providers treat us with respect.

Before we can build that website, we are conducting a statewide research survey to learn where those affirming providers are and assure they are professionally and culturally competent.

If you’re a healthcare provider: click here to add your name as an LGBTQ-affirming provider—and we’ll send you more information about our research survey.

If you’re an LGBTQ patient or parent: forward this email to your provider and urge them to sign—and then click here to add your provider’s contact information so we can reach out to them as well.

LGBTQ people have specific health needs and challenges—ranging from family planning, transition-related care, mental health, sexual health, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and more—but many in our community find themselves traveling out of state… or simply not getting the care they need at all.

To change that, we already provide professional development trainings around New Jersey. And our patient web portal is a critical next step to ensuring that you can easily find those affirming providers—whether you’re in Cape May, Clifton, or Camden.

If you have follow-up questions about this partnership or project, please email MapAndExpand@sph.rutgers.edu.

Mental Health and ACEs

LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ people of color, are statistically more likely to experience what we call adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), like being exposed to violence, poverty, and substance abuse.

In order to address these disparities, GSE and our community partners are working in Asbury Park on a healing-centered community model focused on empowering those most impacted by trauma to be leaders in their own community healing. Our program was highlighted in Gov. Murphy’s 2021 statewide action plan for addressing ACEs.

Learn more about ACEs and our work to address them.

Youth Homelessness

GSE supports initiatives that increase awareness and creates positive changes for homeless LGBTQ youth.

GSE is partnered with Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey (CASA) and the New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency to provide support in the following initiatives:

  • Decrease the number of LGBTQ youth who are homelessness
  • Increasing the number of licensed foster homes that accept placement of LGBTQ youth and teens
  • Work towards requiring licensed foster homes to have specialized diversity trainings that include gender identity and expression
  • Increase the number of CASA volunteers who are trained in LGBTQ awareness and inclusion to support youth involved in family court

Are you willing to open your home to LGBTQ youth? Please contact 1-800-222-0047 to begin the process of being a New Jersey Licensed Resource Parent and help end LGBTQ youth homelessness.

Are you interested in being the voice for a child in need? CASA is looking to increase its LGBTQ volunteer pool to better assist LGBTQ youth. Learn more about volunteering as a CASA from your local CASA office.

Inclusive Paid Family Leave

Last updated January 21, 2020. For up-to-date information and more resources, please visit NJTimetoCare.com.

No one should have to choose between the people they love and the job they need, and now in New Jersey, you won’t have to.

In 2019, Gov. Murphy signed landmark legislation to expand New Jersey’s paid family leave program with LGBTQ-inclusive protections!

The definition of “family member” has been expanded to respect all family structures, because there’s no one-size-fits-all definition of family. Whether you’re married or in a civil union — or not married at all — you can take time off to care for your partner, your closest loved ones, or your children.

New Jersey’s updated paid family leave expands the definition of family for caregiving and provides benefits for survivors, and caretakers of individuals dealing with issues of domestic violence or sexual assault. Additional family members covered for caregiving leave are adult children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, parents-in-laws, other blood relatives, and individuals whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship

Compared to the general population, LGBTQ people are much more likely to need to take time off to care for a loved one to whom they’re not legally or biologically tied, and under this new law, you can.

New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (FLI) is paid family leave, available to employees in New Jersey when they need to take leave from work to bond with a new child (birth, foster or adopted), or care for a seriously ill family member (see definition below). New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) is paid leave for one’s own non-work-related injury, illness, or other disability, including pregnancy

The FLI program provides workers with six weeks of partial paid leave over a 12-month period and TDI is available for up to 26 weeks in a 12-month period. The wage replacement of both programs is currently 2/3 of workers’ average weekly wage, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $650 for 2019 (adjusted annually).  New Jersey workers contribute a small fraction of their earnings to the FLI program (maximum contribution for 2019 is $27.52) and the TDI program (maximum contribution for 2019 is $58.48). Employers contribute a variable amount to just to the TDI program.

New Jersey’s updated law to expand FLI & TDI will help make the programs more accessible and affordable for working families. Here are some of the things the bill does to improve the programs:

  • Increases the number of consecutive weeks for FLI from 6 to 12 and allows for intermittent use (less than one week increments) for bonding leaves. Available intermittent leave (for caregiving and bonding) will increase from 42 to 56 days.
  • Increases the wage replacement rate for both FLI and TDI when related to pregnancy and childbirth, from 66.7% to 85% of a worker’s average weekly wage.
  • Raises the maximum benefit for both FLI and TDI to approximately $860 starting July 1, 2020. This is an increase from 53% of the statewide average weekly wage to 70%.
  • You may have the explicit right to return to work when taking leave under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the NJ Family Leave Act (FLA). The FLA covers workers at businesses with 30 or more employees.
  • Expands the definition of family for caregiving and provides benefits for survivors, and caretakers of individuals dealing with issues of domestic violence or sexual assault. Additional family members covered for caregiving leave are adult children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, parents-in-laws, other blood relatives, and individuals whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.
  • Gives employees the choice to use their own paid time off before accessing FLI. Under the current program, employers can require employees take up to two weeks of their paid time off before accessing the program
  • Workers with more than one job can take leave from one job and receive FLI benefits while continuing to work their other.
  • Removes the one week waiting period for family leave. And individuals returning to work on a reduced schedule can receive partial TDI benefits.
  • Includes additional protections so that employers may not retaliate against employees who request TDI or FLI benefits. Employers who fail to provide the DOLWD with information to process a claim causing a delay, may be required to additional penalties.

Pledge and Protect

Pledge and Protect serves the needs of LGBTQ older adults. Recent estimates show that nearly 15 million Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. By 2030, LGBTQ adults ages 50 and older will number more than 5 million.

Due to unique challenges faced by this population, LGBTQ older adults are at greater risk for social isolation, loneliness, health issues, and poverty. LGBTQ older adults are less likely to have children to rely on for care and are more likely to live alone compared to heterosexual adults. LGBTQ older adults are also more likely to live in poverty compared to heterosexual older adults.

In New Jersey, we have measures in place to improve the situation: in 2021, Gov. Murphy signed into law the LGBTQ Senior Bill of Rights, which prevents discrimination against LGBTQ older adults and people living with HIV in long-term care facilities.

Visit our Older Adult Care Trainings page for more information on how Garden State Equality can help long-term care facilities provide the best care possible to LGBTQ older adults.

Elders for Equality

The mission of Elders for Equality is to empower LGBTQ older adults and older adult providers to advocate and educate for LGBTQ aging issues throughout New Jersey. Join our Facebook Group by clicking here and become a part of the conversation.

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