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June 2013Vol. 14, No. 5Welcome Initiative for LGBT Refugees

While all refugees resettling in the United States face unique challenges, vulnerabilities faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) refugees are particularly poignant. The Heartland Alliance—a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety—established the Rainbow Welcome Initiative to help the LGBTQ refugee community. The Rainbow Welcome Initiative provides resettlement agencies with the tools, resources, and technical assistance necessary to provide culturally competent services to this population. One such tool is the new field manual Rainbow Response: A Practical Guide to Resettling LGBT Refugees and Asylees.

The guide is intended to help service providers tailor and strengthen service delivery to the LGBT refugee and asylee population. It outlines terminology pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity, dispels myths and provides facts about being transgender, and includes case studies, quizzes, and best practices. Refugees, asylees, and resettlement caseworkers across the country provided feedback during several of the initiative's training workshops, and that feedback was incorporated into the field manual.

The Initiative website hosts a number of resources for service providers, including Rainbow Welcome Initiative: An Assessment and Recommendations Report on LGBT Refugee Resettlement in the United States, as well as resources for refugees and asylees, such as Know Your Rights: Information on Seeking Asylum (for LGBT or HIV positive).

The Rainbow Welcome Initiative is funded through a grant from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Visit the Rainbow Response Initiative website at

Rainbow Response: A Practical Guide to Resettling LGBT Refugees and Asylees is available here: (6 MB)