In 1979 Dr. Emery Hetrick and Dr. Damien Martin founded the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a nonprofit organization in New York, originally named the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth. The doctors created the institute to advocate for at-risk youth aged 13 to 21. The idea came after hearing about a 15-year-old boy who had been beaten and thrown out of an emergency shelter because he was gay.
In 1985 the institute established the Harvey Milk High School in cooperation with the New York City Department of Education. Named for the slain gay San Francisco city councilman, the school provides an alternative public education for LGBT youth. It is the largest school of its kind in the world. Programs include job training, HIV education and internships. Martin said the school was founded “for gay youths, partly because violence inflicted on young homosexuals made it impossible for some to stay in other schools.”
Hetrick and Martin helped establish a network of social service agencies serving New York’s LGBT community. Hetrick, an Ohio native, was a former medical director at the drug company Pfizer and a psychiatric specialist who worked at both Harlem Hospital Center and the Gouverneur Diagnostic and Treatment Center. Martin, a native Philadelphian, was active in many gay rights organizations, including the Governor’s Task Force on Teen Suicide and the Child Welfare League of America’s Task Force on AIDS. He taught speech pathology at New York University.
Both men, life partners, died of AIDS-related complications.