New Report Documents Gender and Sexual Injustice in New York City

Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke, Report's Author, Presents Blueprint for Gender and Sexual Justice to Top Officials of the de Blasio Administration

New York, June 19, 2014—New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio can reduce widespread gender and sexual discrimination against millions of New Yorkers with a series of targeted policy changes—many of them revenue-neutral—according to a report released today by the Columbia Law School Center for Gender and Sexuality Law

Our Fair City: A Comprehensive Blueprint for Gender and Sexual Justice in New York City documents everyday incidents of gender and sexual injustice experienced by already vulnerable New Yorkers and can serve as a blueprint to guide the de Blasio administration as it develops a policy agenda on these issues.
Over the last month, Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke, who directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, and Cindy Gao, the Center's Coordinator, met with top officials in the de Blasio administration to discuss the report and measures the Mayor can take to promote equality for all New Yorkers. For example, Franke urged the de Blasio administration to take immediate action on a number of “fast and free” policy reforms including:
  • Prohibiting the NYPD from using condoms as evidence of all prostitution-related arrests;
  • withdrawing a Bloomberg administration proposal to narrow the meaning of “family member” for families living in subsidized housing to legal spouses; and
  • encouraging law enforcement to support visas for undocumented survivors of domestic violence or human trafficking without requiring victims’ testimony in criminal cases.
The meeting included New York City Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley; Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli; and Rose Pierre-Louis, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. In subsequent conversations, the officials agreed to organize a meeting with key de Blasio administration staff and advocates who work on the criminal justice issues identified in Our Fair City. The meeting is scheduled to take place in late summer or early fall.
Our Fair City identifies myriad practices and policies that result in discrimination across issues ranging from education, criminal justice, and housing to immigration, labor, and sexual violence.
For example, despite widespread bullying and sexual harassment in New York City public schools, the Department of Education has only one official responsible for ensuring compliance with the federal law that prohibits sex and gender-based harassment in public education. And, there are only 253 shelter beds reserved for tens of thousands of LGBTQ homeless and runaway youth who routinely resort to trading sex for a place to sleep.  Additional facts can be seen here.
Written in close collaboration with dozens of advocacy and direct-service organizations that work to address the day-to-day manifestations of sexual and gender injustice in New York, the report offers the de Blasio administration:
  • A comprehensive analysis of the many ways city policies and practices perpetuate gender and sexual discrimination, as well as recommendations for immediate and near-term actions to eliminate such injustices;
  • 10 key facts about gender and sexual injustice that have largely been ignored by previous administrations; and
  • 10 revenue-neutral “Fast and Free” ways to confront discrimination immediately by executive order.
Franke said the center will issue periodic assessments documenting progress made on the recommendations put forth in Our Fair City and will identify additional opportunities for improvement.
“We’ve been encouraged so far by this administration’s commitment to progressive policy reform and expect that Mayor de Blasio will embrace policies that assure justice and fairness for all New Yorkers," said Franke. "This report provides the administration a blueprint for achieving gender and sexual justice in New York City and charts the path for NYC to become a model for dismantling gender and sexuality-based barriers to opportunity."
NOTE TO MEDIA: To schedule an interview with Professor Katherine Franke, contact the Columbia Law School Public Affairs Office at 212-854-2650, or email [email protected]
The Law School also has a studio on campus equipped with an ISDN line and IFB capability for radio and television interviews. Please contact the Public Affairs Office for bookings.