Central PA's LGBT News Source

LGBT Center

Our strategic plan for 2019-2021

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It’s a new year and I have some exciting news to share with you! Last year, we commenced a visioning and strategic planning process to find out what our LGBTQ+ communities’ needs were so that we could identify priorities for the center going forward. Many of you participated in this, as community feedback was collected through multiple focus groups and an online survey.

We were pleased with the amount of feedback that we received, and the data was compiled and analyzed for themes. And now we present the new Vision, Mission, and Values and the new Strategic Plan for 2019-2021.

We believe that our new Vision, Mission, and Values provide a clear statement on who we are as an organization and what we value, and our new Strategic Plan establishes priorities and sets out a trajectory to direct our work over the next three years. I’d like to share these with you.

Our Vision as an organization is aspirational - what we hope for in the long-term, and seek to move towards intentionally. Based on community feedback, the LGBT Center’s new vision statement is: “To inspire LGBTQ+ people across identities for collective liberation.” Liberation from all forms of oppression is what we strive for, and creating spaces where we can bring together LGBTQ+ people of all different identities to be inspired and to work towards that is where we situate ourselves within the broader LGBTQ+ movement.

We also recognize how interconnected our work in the LGBTQ+ movement must be with other social justice movements, and we unapologetically support movements seeking justice and inclusion for people of color, documented and undocumented immigrants, refugees, people of all faiths or no faith, women, people living with disabilities, older adults, youth, and people who are low-income. We know that each of these struggles, although unique, are interconnected - and we support justice for all people who are oppressed and marginalized.

Our Mission is functional - what we are doing on a day-to-day basis to move towards our Vision. Based on community feedback, the LGBT Center’s new mission statement is: “To foster inclusive communities and holistic well-being for LGBTQ+ people through social, educational, and cultural engagement.” This speaks to the core of what we do as a Center through our ongoing programs like Common Roads, Aging with Pride, Passageways, and the QTPOC Advisory Group - as well as training and education, and community events.

Our Values are the principles that guide us as an organization as we do our day-to-day work - what informs us when we are navigating difficult decisions or weighing competing priorities. Based on community feedback, the LGBT Center has identified four core values: Safety, Respect & Dignity, Intersectionality & Inclusion, and Collaboration.

Our value of Safety means that we seek to prioritize the physical, mental, and emotional safety of LGBTQ+ people. We believe survivors of violence and seek to support their safety and agency. As LGBTQ+ people, we experience higher rates of sexual violence and many forms of violence - and the systems that are supposed to protect us often don’t. So, we believe survivors, we do everything we can to support survivors, and we strive to create spaces at the Center and in our programs that further the safety of all of our participants.

Our value of Respect & Dignity means that we value the humanity in each person, and seek to ground our interactions in respect and dignity for people of all identities and experiences. We bring many different identities and lived experiences to this space - and sometimes that can cause tension or conflict. Knowing that, we strive to create a culture where we can engage our differences honestly, call each other “in” rather than calling each other “out”, and treat each other with dignity and respect, even when we disagree.

Our value of Intersectionality & Inclusion means that we recognize the complex ways that our multiple identities intersect, and the layers of societal privilege and oppression that we experience on an individual, communal, organizational, and systemic level as a result. We seek to understand and challenge our privileges and actively work towards solidarity. We strive to center the voices of and prioritize programs and services for LGBTQ+ people who are most marginalized, committing to be representative of and accountable to those communities.

Finally, our value of Collaboration means that we seek to work, internally and externally, in a collaborative manner that values feedback, builds partnerships, and operates from a framework of mutuality rather than competition. We strive to be a place that is responsive to community feedback, that recognizes the value of partnerships and cultivates them, and that does not operate from a place of “not enough” but recognizes how much we can accomplish together.

With this Vision, Mission, and Values to guide us, our Strategic Plan sets out a trajectory for our work over the next three years. Based on community feedback, we identified four Strategic Focus Areas: Community Building, Racial Justice, Mental Health, and Housing.

Under Community Building, our goal is to: “Build connected, engaged, and resilient communities amongst LGBTQ+ people in Central PA.” This builds upon the work we are already doing through our regular programming for specific ages and identities, as well as creating spaces for people to connect across and between different identities and ages

Under Racial Justice, our goal is to: “Move towards being an anti-racist organization that prioritizes the needs of queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) in all aspects of the organization, and is representative of, informed by, and accountable to QTPOC.” The Queer & Trans People of Color (QTPOC) Advisory Group currently plans QTPOC-specific programming and serves as an advisory group to our Board of Directors - including having a voting member on the Board - to hold us accountable on racial justice.

Under Mental Health, our goal is to: “Enhance the availability and quality of mental health resources for LGBTQ+ people in Central PA.” We know that LGBTQ+ people have higher mental health needs, due to the discrimination and oppression we experience in society, and we face additional barriers to accessing affirming mental health services. In addition to continuing to foster connection and community through all regular programming, our strategic plan will focus on increasing the capacity of mental health providers to provide LGBTQ-affirming care through training and education, and developing our own capacity to provide LGBTQ-affirming mental health services at the center.

Under Housing, our goal is to: “Improve the availability and quality of housing resources for LGBTQ+ people in Central PA.” Up to 40% of unstably housed youth identify as LGBTQ+, and many LGBTQ+ older adults are concerned about being forced back into the closet as they age. We plan to improve access to and quality of existing housing systems for LGBTQ+ people who are unstably housed by providing training and education to providers, as well as creating new systems for providing LGBTQ-specific housing services. We will also be identifying, equipping, and highlighting older adult housing providers that are LGBTQ-affirming.

Reflecting on the establishment of the Center in 2006, this too was driven by a strategic planning group gathering input from the community - with the support of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC) - so it seems fitting that we continue in this tradition of gathering community input to assess needs, as we forge our way ahead into 2019.

There are lots of opportunities to be involved as volunteers, donors, sponsors, and partners, so if you are interested in joining us please reach out to me at aarbour@centralpalgbtcenter.org or 717-920-9534. I hope to have the opportunity to work with you as we move forward together!