Side by Side's Commitment
to Black LGBTQ+ Youth
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.

Thank you,

Ted Lewis, Executive Director

Side by Side's Racial Equity Statement

Side by Side is dedicated to creating supportive communities where Virginia's LGBTQ+ youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish. To honor the fullness of who our youth are we want to cultivate a space that recognizes and focuses on their full humanity to include race along with sexual orientation and gender identity. Side by Side's commitment to racial equity allows the board, staff, and volunteers to learn and share together in service of the youth. Our starting point in this evolving journey is to acknowledge the power we hold as an organization and to commit to taking actions to promote more racially equitable communities. Given the unique history of anti-Black racism in Virginia, and specifically in Richmond, we are focusing on Black youth in this initial work of racial equity. Going forward we plan to commit to other underrepresented identity groups with the same level of focus and intention. We invite our youth, families, volunteers, board, junior board, donors, and funding partners to join us on this ongoing path towards a more racially equitable Side by Side.

At this time we commit to:
  • Listening to both racial equity scholars in the community and to Black LGBTQ+ youth (including youth beyond those who currently attend Side by Side) to understand the nuances of what Black LGBTQ+ youth need;
  • Working intentionally to create a representative organization that reflects the racial diversity of Virginia's LGBTQ community. We affirm that representation matters and from this commit ourselves to the messy emotional work of racial equity that moves us beyond this as an end of itself;
  • Creating space for Black LGBTQ+ youth, which includes naming the historical and systemic nature of racism, leveraging organizational influence, implementing intersectional programming and curriculum, and engaging in intentional outreach and recruitment that not only breaks down the dominance of white culture, but also celebrates other cultures and experiences;
  • Seeking funding opportunities, on an ongoing basis, to uplift Black LGBTQ+ youth;
  • Collaborating with organizations who serve, support, and affirm Black youth, to ensure that Black LGBTQ+ youth have multiple safe and affirming spaces in which to flourish; and
  • Increasing access to our programs and services by building relationships in Black communities consistently through long-term engagement.

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