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|JustUsATL outlines goals for new Atlanta LGBT youth group|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Friday, 13 April 2012 00:00|
Former members of YouthPride are moving ahead with plans for a new Atlanta LGBT youth organization as the troubled agency remains silent about where it will move after being forced out of its current home due to unpaid rent.
YouthPride Executive Director Terence McPhaul declined an interview this week. The organization must move next month from its space at 1017 Edgewood Ave. and faces a crisis in leadership after admitting that its board of directors has dwindled to below the minimum required in its bylaws and hasn’t met since December 2010.
McPhaul said in a brief statement last month that new sites were being explored and the formation of a new board of directors is “moving fast.” He stressed that YouthPride remains open and operating.
Repeated attempts to reach remaining board members Jordan Myers and Theresa Willis have been unsuccessful. Attorney Jason McCoy, who is working pro bono to help YouthPride establish a new board of directors, also could not be reached for comment.
YouthPride must relocate by May 31 after reaching a legal settlement with its landlord, Inman Park United Methodist Church. YouthPride owed the church more than $50,000 in back rent and fees, and the settlement agreement required YouthPride to pay the church $28,000. So far, YouthPride has paid $23,000; the final $5,000 is due May 1.
JustUsATL plans new youth center
In response to YouthPride’s woes, dozens of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth have formed JustUsATL, a youth-led group that seeks to find a new space and form its own non-profit organization. The group was incorporated with the Georgia Secretary of State on April 4 with local attorney Kathleen Womack serving as its registered agent.
JustUsATL already offers several support groups. At a town hall forum on March 31, members laid out future plans for the group, including securing a space, forming an advisory board and getting federal 501(c)3 nonprofit status.
“Queer youth, we have to stick together and have a place to stick together ― and currently that place doesn’t exist,” said Gabriel Haggray, one of the town hall organizers. “We don’t have a safe zone. It’s important to have someplace right now and queer youth in Atlanta currently don’t have that. We need that.”
But what about YouthPride?
“I will say that if people don’t feel that is a safe space we are a safe space,” added Haggray, who is also a former youth leader at YouthPride.
Preliminary ideas from JustUsATL include buying a space rather than renting, for an estimated annual budget of $41,780, according to the presentation at the forum. The tentative budget includes an estimated $2,000 per month mortgage fee. Organizers said, however, they are not opposed to renting a space if one can be found or even sharing a space with an existing organization.
The group’s one-year plan includes hiring staff: an executive director for perhaps $35,000-$45,000 a year and an administrative assistant for $20,000 a year.
Haggray said JustUsATL plans to have a board of directors made up mostly of youth, although organizers know adult professionals will be needed.
A panel of nine youth gave a Power Point presentation laying out an overall preliminary budget of approximately $116,540, along with the organization’s mission and core values. The youth also laid out a three-month plan, a six-month plan and a one-year plan.
Top photo: Gabriel Haggray, one of the organizers of JustUsATL, says he and other youth are hoping to create a new safe space for LGBT youth. (by Dyana Bagby)
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