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[UPDATE] Independent task forces consider YouthPride closed; ED says LGBT youth agency is still open

Volunteer task forces says they now consider YouthPride closed and are implementing a contingency plan devised to relocate programming and services to other agencies. YouthPride is metro-Atlanta nonprofit organization serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth ages 13-24.

"The task forces are now treating YouthPride as if it's non-operational," Charlie Stadtlander told the GA Voice. Statdlander, a gay teacher, organized a Jan. 25 meeting of LGBT leaders and allies that resulted in the formation of two volunteer task forces to look at the financial and legal viability of the agency as well as how to deal with programming should YouthPride shut down.

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Ga. Gay-Straight Alliance Summit provides tools for LGBT students

Gay-Straight Alliance Summit

The Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and Georgia Equality will host the 2012 Georgia Gay-Straight Alliance Summit at Georgia State University on Feb 25.

The summit, a day-long event, aims to connect students with the tools and support needed to create GSAs in their own schools. More than 100 students participated in the conference when it launched last year. This year, organizers expect more than 150 students, parents and educators.

Gay-straight alliances benefit all students, not just those that identify as LGBT, says Anneliese Singh of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition.

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An open letter to the LGBT youth of Atlanta about YouthPride’s troubles

Dear LGBT Youth,
It is very likely that by the time you read this letter, you are doing so with the knowledge that the future of YouthPride, an organization which is so important to all of us, is in a time of crisis. You may be afraid that the programs and services YouthPride offers, the financial trust of funders, and the physical location of the organization are all in jeopardy. While it cannot be denied that there is great reason to be concerned, we come to you today with the committed and reassuring message that your LGBT leaders and allies across Georgia have joined together at a level of determination and unity rarely seen to make sure that we do right by the very young people who are the future and backbone of our community’s movement.

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Saint Lost & Found rents house for Atlanta LGBT homeless youth

Saint Lost & Found, an organization providing emergency shelter to homeless Atlanta LGBT youth, has rented a six-bedroom house in West End and hopes to move in six people seeking homes this week.

"In the state of Georgia, you can house six people in addition to the staff member, so we will be putting six kids in there. But we do have an extra bed," said Rick Westbrook, an organizer of the organization founded by Atlanta's chapter of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

"We plan to have six permanent residents in there until we can help them get into their own apartment or another shelter," Westbrook said.

Westbrook, who was looking for beds to put in the house this afternoon, said the gas and electricity to the rental house were turned on today.

"We hope to have the kids moved in no later than Wednesday," Westbrook added.

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Emergency shelter sought for homeless LGBT teens

LGBT activists discuss youth homelessness at Rush Center

There are no hard numbers indicating how many homeless LGBT youth are sleeping on the streets of Atlanta, but something needs to be done immediately to provide 24-hour emergency shelter, according to a group of local activists.

At a town hall forum at the Phillip Rush Center on Nov. 2, Rick Westbrook, a member of the local chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, announced the Sisters have set up a 24-hour hotline for LGBT youth to call when they are seeking shelter.

A “Saint Lost and Found” fund has also been set up by the Sisters to raise funds to pay for rooms at a hotel where teens can get off the streets.

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Grassroots effort underway to find emergency shelter for Atlanta LGBT homeless youth

Community activist Rick Westbrook

The Atlanta chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence has set up a fund and help line to find emergency shelter for LGBT homeless youth in Atlanta who are not able to locate immediate housing through other resources, such as shelters and LGBT youth agencies.

The phone numbers, up and running now and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are 678-8-LOST-25, or 678-856-7825. A Facebook page for the Saint Lost and Found fund has also been created and a website, is expected to be live later this week.

At a packed town hall forum Wednesday night at the Phillip Rush Center, gay activist Rick Westbrook, also known as Sister Rapture Divine Cox, announced he and other Sisters were forming the Saint Lost and Found fund to accept private donations to help LGBT homeless youth find a place to sleep and eat when other local resources are not immediately available. Westbrook also does community outreach for Positive Impact.

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Atlanta Braves Foundation awards grant for anti-bullying campaign

Atlanta Braves stadium Turner Field

The Atlanta Braves Foundation announced today $150,000 in grants to local nonprofit organizations. The Braves Foundation, the charitable arm of the Major League Baseball team, will present the grants to representatives from each of the organizations at tonight's game, the penultimate of the 2011 season, against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Among the recipients is the Anti-Defamation League Southeast Region, which will use the funds in an ongoing anti-bullying campaign called “No Place for Hate,” according to a representative of the Braves.

The "No Place for Hate" campaign connects the Anti-Defamation League with local schools and provides tools and training necessary to combat youth bullying.

Several Braves players are also featured in an anti-bullying video currently being shown at Turner Field on game days.

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Spelman College offers summit focused on LGBT issues at historically black colleges

Beverly Daniel Tatum, President of Spelman College

Spelman College will host a summit this Friday, April 29, examining gender and sexual politics at historically black colleges. The summit is being organized by the university's Women's Research and Resource Center.

“The summit is the culminating activity of a three-year advocacy project that engaged 11 HBCUs on the particular experiences of LGBT students, faculty and staff in an attempt to facilitate institutional change that acknowledges, values and respects difference,” Spelman noted on a web page for the summit.

The goal, according to organizers, is to present findings of the advocacy project and discuss strategies for creating inclusive campus environments. There will be four panel discussions, as well as a screening of the film “Bursting With Light” made by Spelman graduate Taryn Lee Crenshaw.