If there’s a clear message that Lucie’s Place has received in the past several weeks, it is that change is needed. Change that benefits our members. Change that leads to improved outcomes. Change that leads to greater connections and accountability to the communities we serve. Many have heard about the challenges Lucie’s Place has experienced, particularly around the closure of our transitional housing program in late April, and its impact upon our members. Seeing the closure of our house for the second time in the last three years has the organization taking a step back, listening and learning, in order to make wiser decisions with the trust our supporters and our members put in our organization.
However, there’s another message that’s clear. Our young homeless people need housing, and need a program and organization like Lucie’s Place to do what it can to tackle those issues.
That’s why we’re on a journey this summer – a Summer of Transition here at Lucie’s Place. And we at Lucie’s Place want to share over this summer the journey our organization will be taking to be responsible, to work and learn from our mistakes, and to change and grow into the organization we’ve always wanted to be and what our young people need us to be.
Much like how our namesake, Lucie, a young Arkansan transgender woman boldly sought to be her authentic self and bring others along with her, being Lucie’s Place is going to take boldness, braveness, and a willingness to change who we are. Change is hard, but Lucie serves as our inspiration for the change we need. If our young people are brave enough to be who they need to be, shouldn’t we do the same?
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll share what’s taking place during the Summer of Transition and how you can help take part. For now, your gifts are deeply appreciated as we put them to work to revitalize Lucie's Place. You can make a contribution here.
Already this week, Lucie’s Place has welcomed the expert guidance of group of local community stakeholders ranging homeless organizations to LGBTQ organizations to take part in its search for a new Executive Director. Working side by side with community, Lucie’s Place hopes this search will bring about the leader Lucie’s Place and its members need for a stronger future and stronger community. Those who are interested in the position are encouraged to apply very soon here in order to receive full consideration from the advisory group.
Please continue to follow us here our blog as well as Lucie’s Place on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more about Lucie’s Summer of Transition in the months ahead.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed what Lucie’s Place and its supporters already know: LGBTQ people should be allowed to work without the fear of being fired simply because of who they are or who they love. This ruling, which states that gender identity and sexual orientation are protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, brings us a step closer towards the goals we have laid out in our mission. Monday’s decision will be an important piece in our mission to “ensure lifelong stability” for our members.
“Securing employment is so important for Lucie’s Place members,” said Andrea Zekis, Interim Director at Lucie’s Place. “Finding, getting and keeping a job provides our young people an opportunity to save money, build confidence and personal responsibility and work towards independent living. Independence may come down to one’s ability to secure a living wage, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling demonstrates what we’ve always known, that our members should have every opportunity available to anyone else when it comes to finding valuable work, building their lives and pursuing their dreams. The ruling should serve as a message to Lucie’s Place and other LGBTQ organizations moving forward to take employment support more seriously, especially among transgender and non-binary populations, in order to reduce outcome disparities that may continue despite the ruling.”
See our Interim Executive Director Andrea Zekis talk about the ruling here.
One of our most important responsibilities at Lucie’s Place is encouraging our members to find jobs. The ruling today means that members have explicit protections, reducing the worries that an employer will fire them--or refuse to hire them--simply for living openly. Lucie’s Place has historically helped and referred members for the services they need to find and retain a job. That can be everything from resume help, mentorship, interview skills and accessing clothes for interviews.
Previous studies have shown the far majority of Arkansas support LGBTQ protections against discrimination in employment.
Though this decision is an important step forward, and a significant victory for LGBTQ rights, it does not do enough. Therefore, Lucie’s Place calls for the passage of the Equality Act, which will codify protections for LGBTQ Americans not only in employment, but also in prohibit discrimination in housing, public education, public accommodations, the jury system, federal funding, and credit. We celebrate today’s ruling, and commit ourselves to the rest of the work ahead.
The staff, management, and board of Lucie’s Place mourns the death of George Floyd and supports those working towards justice and ending the serious, unresolved issues of police brutality, white supremacy and systemic racism in our country.
As the calendar moves into June and Lucie’s Place reaffirms its mission to serve young LGBTQ homeless people in Central Arkansas, our organization acknowledges that the safe living environments, lifelong stability, success, and equality we seek for our members are not available for communities of color, especially Black communities, in Arkansas and America due to systemic racism. Many of our members live at the intersection of racial and LGBTQ identities. Many members have experienced trauma as victims of oppression and violence. Many times we worry about the safety of our members knowing most will encounter worlds which will not value or accept them. Our staff, members, and supporters, particularly those who are Black, have felt
deep pain, fear, and anger during the past days.
We at Lucie’s Place stand with #Black Lives Matter and say #Black Trans Lives Matter. We honor the pain, courage, and power of those who protest for justice and change, and we join you in doing so. The lives lost to state-sanctioned violence, white supremacy and anti-Blackness cannot be replaced. We remember not only George Floyd in Minnesota, but also Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Tony McDade in Florida, and countless others. Justice for Black Americans must be realized in order for the brighter futures of all victims of hate, oppression and violence to be realized, therefore Lucie’s Place stands in
solidarity with those actively working to promote change.
The fight for LGBTQ rights, which we commemorate and reaffirm each June, grew directly and indirectly through the work of prominent LGBTQ leaders of color and from the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for Black Lives. As we seek change and fight for justice, we remember that the first Pride was a riot--an uprising--against police brutality and oppression. We can honor the spirit of that first June by acknowledging that Black trans people face disproportionate rates of violence, by acknowledging that trans people and people of color are over-represented in our young LGBTQ homeless population, and by acknowledging that that means our work together is far from over.
As you may know, Lucie’s Place is undergoing a period of transition, but one which points towards change. We’ve begun our search for a new executive director, a process which we have committed to incorporate the diverse voices of our community stakeholders and center the needs of our most marginalized members, many of whom are trans people of color. We’re also committed to our members’ needs now, reopening our drop-in center for hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons and actively working to assist those impacted by the closure of our Transitional Living Program. Lucie’s Place is prepared to listen and learn in order to do better by our members and community so that we may do our part for change.
While there may not be many celebrations this June, standing for long-needed structural change towards justice in our society is a Pride we can all be proud about.
The Staff, Management, and Board of Lucie's Place