In early 2020, the Hudson Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center (the Center) received a very public call-out from community members, including a list of demands for action, in reaction to past harms experienced by some in the community – including issues with accessibility, misgendering, patriarchy and imperialist behavior, racism and a white-centered culture, competition, and the hording of resources.
During the subsequent two years, the Center board and staff have worked hard to address these demands and to act more broadly, too, to ensure that similar harms will never happen again. With the assistance of Flannel & Blade, a locally based intergenerational, queer, BIPOC-led organizational development company, we took a hard look at ourselves and our situation: we reflected deeply on how the Center had arrived at this place in time, our strengths and shortcomings, the composition of our team, and consideration of alternatives and avenues for the best way forward.
This document provides a snapshot of the actions we have taken and those still in process. The Center’s board and staff welcome discussion of further details at any time.
We have and will continue to acknowledge past harms.
We hold ourselves accountable for past wrongs and are truly sorry for them. We have acknowledged publicly past harms multiple times, and we will do so again whenever it is helpful to moving all of us forward: we want to join with all in healing our community.
We have participated in multiple public forums and learned from the grievances of those who have experienced harm.
We have listened deeply and learned a tremendous amount: storytelling was powerful and eye-opening for board and staff members, most all of whom are quite new. Should we make a future misstep, we are fully committed to addressing any harm done in a timely and transparent manner.
We welcome participation in a true restorative and transformative justice process.
We have made ourselves available to participate in a restorative process and will continue to do so: we recognize that the process is complex, and that restoring trust and rebuilding relationships takes time.
We committed to and are actively engaged in DEI, anti-bias, anti-racist, anti-oppressive training for all board members, staff, and group facilitators.
With the help of outside experts, we have begun education and training for all board and staff and will be looking to institute a program for onsite group facilitators, too. During the past year and more, we have engaged in multiple DEIA trainings and programs every month; we recognize that this learning needs to be ongoing, and it will be.
We are soon to publish a comprehensive DEI&A policy statement that will inform how we conduct ourselves always and everything that we do.
Education and training are valuable but only one piece of the foundation we know we need to build to ensure that the Center is a stronger, better organization. We are working on our policy, and an accompanying DEI&A action plan, with Dr. Edward Lawson, an adjunct lecturer at SUNY New Paltz and Assistant Director for Intercultural Relations, who supports diversity, equity, and inclusion programming and outreach for the school. We look forward to sharing our new policy with everyone this summer.
We are addressing a past culture of competitiveness and are committed to partnership and collaboration with LGBTQ+ organizations and service providers across the Hudson Valley.
We have heard and understood the competitiveness issue and are working with all to ensure we make no further mistakes. We look continually for opportunities to collaborate: our role in the 2022 Hudson Valley Pride Coalition March & Festival, as an equal partner with many others, is but one tangible example of how we hope to contribute to the great work for our community being done across the region.
We’ve listened to our community and are taking action.
In addition to actions described above, a community needs assessment conducted with Marist College gave us important direction for other changes we needed to make. Change is ongoing and includes:
- New programs and groups to better meet the current needs of our community
- A move to paid rather than volunteer group facilitators, ensuring recognition of the value talented individuals bring to our programs
- Revised Center building hours for improved access to our space and resources
- A renewed commitment to diversity across the Center board and staff: our team, and its perspectives and experience, needs to reflect the entirety of the community we serve.
We are building a strategic plan for the Center’s future.
We are in the final stages of building a three-year plan of priority focus areas and initiatives for the Center. Key components of the plan are a refreshed vision, mission statement, and core values; enhanced management and operational policies and approaches; and a roadmap for better serving all our audiences and the evolving priority needs of the community.
Here is our hope for now and always.
We want to ensure that the Center allows every member of our diverse local community to have a welcoming and safe experience during every interaction with Center team members and our programs and resources. We commit to further regular communication: we are eager to see what it means for all of us to move forward, together.