It's something of a mystery that the Center did not send this statement to any of the folks who wrote from Queers for an Open LGBT Center, nor the folks who send them emails about QAIA. So whom were they talking to with this press release?
And second: really, it was worthy of a press release?! Then we still have a problem...
May 25, 2011
Statement on Decision to Allow Space Use by Outside Queer Identified Group
The Center recently received a request for space rental by a group called “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” for the purposes of holding recurring meetings to plan for local Pride events. This afternoon we informed the group that the Center would allow access for these meetings.
The decision is consistent with our current guidelines. Under the guidelines we provide space to community groups for a fee on a case-by-case basis, asking that they abide by the Center’s Space Use Agreement, Payment Terms, Code of Conduct and Good Neighbor Policy. Earlier this year we denied space to a group with a similar profile because among other reasons, it was not LGBT focused. In addition, the Center has a longstanding practice of allowing non-LGBT groups to meet so long as it doesn't distract us from our primary purpose of serving the LGBT community; the circumstances surrounding the group in question diverted us from our core mission and we therefore asked it to move an event and all future meetings.
LGBT New Yorkers are facing urgent issues including: youth homelessness, violence, bullying, substance abuse, health disparities and the other myriad of challenges our community members encounter each and every day. The Center is here to help address these issues 365 days a year. Six thousand people pass through our doors every week. We have a responsibility to meet the vast and diverse needs of this community, and our number one priority is delivering critical services to the people we directly serve.
The Center also provides space for a variety of LGBT voices in our community to engage in conversations on a range of topics. The Center does not have a position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, nor does it endorse the viewpoints of this group or any others that use rooms here. This is a complex issue, and there is a tremendous diversity of viewpoints within the LGBT community.
We are currently undergoing a review of our space-use guidelines to ensure we have the most robust standards moving forward. As an interim step we are asking all new and existing groups to sign a Space Use Pledge of Non-Discrimination as part of their rental agreements. The group we approved today has signed this pledge.
Most recently we have also engaged the firm Ritchie Tye Consulting, Inc. to help facilitate a thorough review of the Center’s current standards and procedures for determining space use by outside groups, with the ultimate goal of strengthening our guidelines. Ritchie Tye Consulting, Inc. is a New York-based organizational development consulting firm with a long tenure of work with the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities.
The firm has already been working closely with Center leadership on a process that includes opportunities for input from a diverse cross-section of Center and community stakeholders through interviews and small groups, and will deliver recommendations to the full Board of Directors later this year. At the conclusion of this process, we will apply the newly adopted guidelines to all existing, recurring and new space-for-fee requests.
The Center continues to welcome community input and feedback on this topic through our online suggestion box. http://mycenter.gaycenter.org/Page.aspx?pid=324