Dear Side by Side Family,
Side by Side has a long history of listening to our youth and families. We are constantly adapting and changing to meet the needs of our community.
We have heard from our Black LGBTQ+ youth, their families, and our broader community that there is an opportunity and a need to be more intentional with our work.
Over the past few years, Side by Side's board and staff have had deep, difficult, and good conversations about racial equity. We see that racial equity is "about applying justice and a little bit of common sense to a system that's been out of balance" (Center for Social Inclusion). And we are now excited to commit to Black LGBTQ+ youth in our community with our new Racial Equity Statement (see below).
Side by Side is proud to partner with Us Giving Richmond Connections (URGC), who have committed to assisting Side by Side begin this process.
On Monday, December 2nd at 6pm at ART180 we will co-host a special focus group of leaders in our community to discuss the needs of Black LGBTQ+ youth and get feedback on our commitment to racial equity. In early 2020 we will co-host four Community Forums on Black LGBTQ+ Youth, two in Richmond, one in Petersburg, and one in Charlottesville. We want to hear from you, our community, about how to better serve our Black LGBTQ+ youth and their families. We hope to build new services and resources for Black LGBTQ+ youth and we want your input in that design and process.
This is the beginning of our intentional commitment to racial equity. We plan to commit to other underrepresented identity groups with the same level of focus and intention in the coming years. We are focusing on Black LGBTQ+ youth due to the high health disparities between Black and White LGBTQ+ youth and because of the unique history of anti-Black racism in Virginia, and specifically Richmond.
We invite you to join us in this work as we continue to build a more equitable organization that ultimately creates more supportive communities where all of Virginia's LGBTQ+ youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish.
Ted Lewis, Executive Director