Dear Community Members,
Oluwatoyin Salau. Ronald Peters. Angie Zapata. Latisha King. Sakia Gunn. Nireah Johnson. Matthew Shepard. And so many more. For too long we’ve lived within a system that perpetuates institutional and direct violence against LGBTQ+ people. Across the country, people of conscience are saying “Enough is Enough” in our grief and in our rage. While the recent Supreme Court’s landmark LGBTQ+ ruling is a significant and momentous victory, Play At The Core recognizes there is much more work to be done.
As NYC Pride turns 50 this year, we at Play At The Core join millions of Americans in observing what this celebration means. Pride was born out of protest. As an organization, we recognize that honoring this celebration doesn’t merely involve joining the world’s LGBTQ+ communities and celebrating the freedom to be themselves. For us, that means to strive for our programming to commit to unlearning historical messaging while we identify, unpack and challenge stereotypes and unconscious bias. It means to educate ourselves about LGBTQ+ history and issues, without expecting LGTBQ+ people to validate their existence for our understanding. It means to listen to those within the LGBTQ+ community and to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And it most certainly means to seek justice for LGBTQ+ people every day, particularly for the young people and program professionals that are part of our work.
In the months ahead, Play At The Core will undertake a series of new organizational practices that we hope will make our community more connected, inclusive and strong. This will include:
- Examining our work in youth development to identify ways we can be more inclusive in the questions we ask and the ways we describe the children and practitioners we work with.
- Challenging heteronormativity perpetuated within the field of youth development that marginalizes and excludes the experience of the LGBTQ+ community, and use our work as a platform to advocate for more inclusive youth development practices.
- Increasing the diversity of our program team to include more LGBTQ+ team members, and integrate these perspectives so our programming can better support and advocate for LGBTQ+ youth and program professionals.
We are continuing to listen, to learn, and to keep one another accountable, and are grateful to be part of such a supportive community.
With Great Love,
The Play At The Core Team