Don’t use LGBT youth as pawns


Here’s the bottom line: The Attic Youth Center is about the well-being and safety of LGBT youth.

Last week, there were allegations regarding the center. And, at this point, that’s what they are – allegations. With any such reports, we need to look at where those allegations came from and question the evidence, as well as the credibility and motives of the accuser. And if those allegations are real, what is The Attic doing to correct the situation? You then weigh that against the reputation and record of those named, and ask if any reports of wrongdoing were ever filed.

Almost anyone in the LGBT community would agree that The Attic and its founder, Dr. Carrie Jacobs, have been protecting our endangered youth for 25 years without incident. And that is a starting place.

The center has not had one blemish in the 25 years it has been serving mostly LGBT youth of color. Especially given that clean record, any allegation needs real information, not simply rumor or embellishment. And we have little information, since no one has stepped forward and filed any charges against The Attic or any of its staff.

There are lots of moving parts to this, and it seems like we’ve been here before with the same litany of accusations. Taking all of them into account, a pattern appears. They all start the same way, with claims of some form of harassment. Next, the racist labels are applied. While racism exists in our community, that doesn’t mean that everyone, and every organization, is racist. Use the label too much and it almost has no meaning. We could say similar things about the anti-Semitism label, as the recent debate in the halls of Congress has shown us.

And almost all organizations have disgruntled staff, past and current, and for various reason, not just racism.

The first obligation we all have is to protect our young. I say that since those who made some of the allegations, Black and Brown Workers Collective, have given a list of demands and set a date for those demands to be met by The Attic. The Attic’s board of directors has said it’s conducting a review of events and procedures. The Attic is not bound by BBWC, or me, or anyone else. It is bound by ethics. Its goal is to find the truth and ensure and create safe procedures for our children, as well as a safe and inclusive work environment for its staff.

LGBT youth cannot be used as pawns, period. There are remedies for these allegations other than creating an issue for the at-risk youth currently going to The Attic. The allegations should be looked into, but former disgruntled employees should not use children as pawns.

One more point: There isn’t a nonprofit or organization that doesn’t need to look into its operating system every so often to help deal with our changing society. The world doesn’t stand still. So, this is a good time for The Attic to look into its operating systems, rules, regulations and human-resources policies, and make tweaks or changes as fit. It’s also a time to look into any charges made, take action or move on.

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at or Twitter at