As YouthPride continues to face obstacles including a funding crisis, a group of young people who have used its services before are now breaking off to begin forming their own organization.
In a press release sent today, members of "JustUsATL" are hosting a town hall forum on March 31 at Greater Smith Church at 7 p.m. The church is located at 183 Mayson Ave., Atlanta, GA 30303. More information about the group and town hall can be found on JustUsATL's Facebook page.
"LGBTQ young people including teens and young adults have come together in a consensus-based process to form a new organization," states the press release.
[Updated] LGBTQ youth rise up to start new organization as YouthPride crumbles
“JustUsATL seeks to provide a space that is safe, affirming, educational and supportive by offering discussion forums, afterschool space, peer education, STI testing, counseling and social activities,” the release adds.
“All who wish to stand in solidarity with Atlanta’s LGBTQ youth by aiding in efforts to provide the aforementioned services through a central location are invited to learn more about this new organization,” the release states.
JustUsATL spokesperson Chris Kontopidis said the young people have been organizing online since Feb. 10 and had their first meeting on March 10, days after a disruptive town hall forum.
Ages of members range from 15 to 26 with about 100 people connected online and some 25 people who have attended several meetings since March 10.
On Wednesday, a Fulton Magistrate judge gave YouthPride until 5 p.m. on May 31 to vacate its location at 1017 Edgewood Ave. after being sued by its landlord, Inman Park United Methodist Church, for not paying rent since June 2011. The court also ordered YouthPride to pay a total $28,000 settlement, nearly half of the more than $56,000 actually owed the church in back rent.
Requests for comment on a possible contingency plan for YouthPride to relocate have gone unanswered by Executive Director Terence McPhaul and board member Jordan Myers.
Inman Park UMC’s board of trustees issued a statement today saying it wanted to give YouthPride and its clients time to relocate.
“Inman Park United Methodist Church reached a settlement with YouthPride Inc’s authorized leadership on the afternoon of March 20th that will allow YP to be able to remain in the current space for a short time further, to allow for a transition period in order for the organization to relocate.
“The church is still recovering from the loss of tenant revenue during 2011 and 2012 but wishes for the transition of YP to take place as effectively as possible so clients of that organization are not impacted further by the recent events,” said the church’s board of trustees.
On Wednesday evening, McPhaul sent an email to youth members and others with the subject: “YouthPride is still here for you.”
The email reads:
“This is just a friendly reminder that YouthPride is still here providing all of the services you have been used to. The schedules haven’t changed! All contacts are listed on the YouthPride website at www.youthpride.org.
“Counseling services are still provided under the direction of a highly skilled mental health professional with decades of quality experience.
“If you have questions feel free to email the following:
YouthPride, founded in 1995, provides services and resources to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth living in metro Atlanta.
UPDATE: McPhaul sent an email at 9:21 p.m. Thursday in response to earlier questions. He states:
A peaceful settlement was reached between YouthPride and Inman Park United Methodist Church. YouthPride has been looking for a new home and has shortened its list. A final decision on the new location has not been made. The final cost is not known, but it will be in line with our current and future budget constraints.
YouthPride continues to inform and market to current youth, and the countless youth in the Metro Atlanta area who need our vital services.
YouthPride’s search for board members is moving quickly. We have identified community members who have a strong interest in using their skills and talents in support of LGBTQQ youth.
YouthPride continues to offer counseling from a licensed clinician.