As a native New Yorker, Jasmina Chuck knows how important the services provided by The Legal Aid Society are for our city. A paralegal in our LGBT Law and Policy Initiative, Jasmina works with clients across all five boroughs, trains staff in all three practices, and pushes to make New York a better place for all people by fighting for the most ignored and marginalized among us.
The LGBT Law and Policy Initiative works with clients, staff members, and partner organizations on a daily basis, juggling a number of initiatives to spread awareness and make an impact for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. As a paralegal, Jasmina is deeply involved with every facet of the Initiative’s work, mostly importantly supporting the brave and invaluable class action litigation plaintiffs. Impact litigation makes a lasting difference by challenging the systemic injustices that members of the LGBTQ+ communities face every day. In recent years, Jasmina and the Initiative have focused on a group of New Yorkers that have long been overlooked: homeless youth. While over 40% of homeless youth in our city identify as LGBTQ+, these young New Yorkers lack essential support. But, things are looking better for these vulnerable youths. New York City just announced it will be opening its first shelter to assist LGBTQ+ homeless youth.
Alongside their work at the frontlines of our city’s legal reforms, Jasmina and the Initiative also focus on helping staff throughout the Society address the unique needs of LGBTQ+ clients. Through cultural humility trainings, Jasmina keeps our staff informed about the different issues members of the LGBTQ+ community are facing, helping each unit and program develop and further their inclusive and supportive practices. The Initiative’s educational outreach does not stop within the Society, though. In fact, as Jasmina explains, “we create a lot of resource materials” to share with our partner organizations and client communities. “It’s a mix of consultation, both internal and external.”
For Jasmina, the work of the LGBT Law and Policy Initiative is a unique look into the important impact of The Legal Aid Society. “Our work is always collaborative,” she states. “I’ve gotten to meet so many great people at Legal Aid.” But, it’s always more than just working together, it’s about making a difference in the lives of our clients. “We meet these people when they are at their most vulnerable,” Jasmina says, “and it is important that our staff is compassionate and affirming.” With her help, The Legal Aid Society can continue being there for New Yorkers in need.