During Pride Month in June, we honor those who’ve gone before us in the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights, celebrate the current progress made and continue to envision a future of full equity.
Normally Pathfinders would be busy with a variety of activities: our young people would be talking about how they want to celebrate the month, staff would have conducted activities at Milwaukee’s Pridefest and our staff and young people would be collaborating with partners on community-wide celebrations.
But things are very different this year. In addition to a global pandemic, a spotlight on injustice is shining brightly in Milwaukee, across the United States and around the world. The systemic injustices, marginalization and oppression that the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ communities experience have similarities and frequently intersect – especially as it relates to police violence.
Pathfinders supports and stands with those protesting and advocating for equality in our community. We honor the voices of our youth, many of whom are leading the way and giving us hope.
Among our values is the tenet of youth voice and youth choice. Simply lived – “Nothing About Us Without Us.” More formally is the concept that policy decisions shouldn’t be made without direct participation of members of the group affected.
Pathfinders pledges its commitment to continue to:
- Prioritize the voices of our young people when it comes to programs offered, how services are delivered and the hiring of direct service staff.
- Advocate for increased funding at the federal, state, county and local level to support youth homelessness and housing instability, mental health services, sexual exploitation, employment and educational opportunities and the effects of trauma.
- Amplify the voice and perspectives of young people as we advocate for changes in systems like law enforcement, healthcare, justice, educational and employment sectors.
- Advance our ongoing social justice work – a core value of our organization that is grounded in the recognition of systemic violence and oppression of those considered “other,” the urgent need for meaningful and sustained structural change and the ongoing priority of enhancing safety nets for those who need support and creating practices that offer equity and just opportunities for all people.
- Remain open for Milwaukee’s most vulnerable and marginalized young people to provide them with inclusive, safe spaces to take respite, to share their voice and to navigate resources and systems.
Most importantly, we will continue to love them.
“This program is based on trust, respect and positive attitude which makes Pathfinders all the more special. Thank you for accepting me as me.” – Pathfinders youth
Yours in partnership,
President & CEO