Over the past week, several people have pointed out that our physical space on Broadway Boulevard is not accessible to the entire community. Since we moved to this location in the summer of 2021, we have been fielding concerns and comments about this issue on a regular basis. We apologize that this has not been publicly addressed before now.
We, the Board of Directors at Kansas City Center for Inclusion, are as frustrated about the lack of access to our building as you are, and we should have spoken about this sooner.
It should never take a public call out for any organization, especially a resource center, to be proactive and provide information about access to their space. We are embarrassed by our lack of communication and accountability on this topic because the goal of inclusion is part of our very name and identity. We have failed several of the communities we aim to help, and we are deeply sorry.
The issue of access ought to have been considered before we moved. This was not done. While the circumstances surrounding our move were in some ways beyond our control, and we are bound by legal obligations to keep some of these circumstances private, we understand that to those members of our community who are unable to be included in center activities, these details are irrelevant. The fact is, we are currently leasing a space that is not accessible to all of our community. This is not inclusive and it is not acceptable.
We are sorry.
There is no excuse for this decision, or for our lack of transparency. We are not asking you to forgive our mistakes. We are, however, committing to doing better. These are some of the ways KCCI plans to remedy these issues.
Step One: Acknowledgement.
- The Center has harmed several marginalized, intersectional communities, both in our history and in recent months. This includes the disabled and BIPOC communities.
- The Center’s current location is not accessible for disabled individuals, particularly those who are reliant on mobility aids.
- The Center's location above a bar creates a barrier to accessing our space for anyone who needs or wishes to avoid proximity to alcohol.
- The Center has recently welcomed several members of the Deaf community into our space, but has been inconsistent in its ability to provide interpretation services.
- The current board is overwhelmingly white. This does not create a welcoming environment for the BIPOC community.
- The Center has not always been transparent about our mistakes, or the efforts we take to address them.
Step Two: Accountability.
- The Center takes full responsibility for the hurt and damage this has caused to those in our community. Instead of serving our entire community, we further marginalized BIPOC and disabled community members.
- The Center would like to extend an apology to everyone who has been harmed by our lack of accessibility. We acknowledge that there is an emotional toll when one discovers that a space is not welcoming or accessible. We would like to thank all those of you who took the time to call us out in recent weeks, and throughout the past year, for holding us accountable to our promise of inclusion.
- We realize that we may have caused harm to other individuals, and other intersectional communities, who did not feel comfortable expressing this hurt. We are deeply sorry and hope we can work to regain your trust.
- It is no one’s job to teach us; we are so appreciative of everyone who took on the mental and emotional labor of calling on us to do better. We invite anyone who is interested to be a part of our conversation moving forward. We are not asking you to educate us, but we are committed to listening and working to build the community you deserve in Kansas City.
Step Three: Transparency.
- Each event will have accessibility specifics posted including: access, locale, interpretation and languages.
- The Center is committed to providing transparency surrounding our plans to find a new "forever home" that is more inclusive. We are legally required to keep some of this information private for the time being, but we commit to communicating as much as we are able, as soon as we are able.
- The Center will be actively recruiting board members before the end of fall. We will communicate our process to the public to ensure that the recruitment process is equitable, accessible, and transparent. We will be actively seeking members from marginalized communities to participate in our organization going forward. This is the way it should have been done in the first place.
- We understand that, having been hurt by our organization, you may not want to participate going forward. We would not begrudge anyone this decision. We do, however, still believe that Kansas City needs an organization like ours that is committed to fostering community and offering resources to the entire LGBTQIA+ community. We would love to invite you to bring your unique insight, experience, and talents to help us further this mission. We don’t want to just “make a seat at the table”, we want to make an entirely new table that encourages a shift in power.
- We recognize that nonprofits are a pillar of privilege. The board members of nonprofits are generally unpaid positions, ours included. The ability to volunteer your time to a non-profit takes privilege. We will continue to learn and explore future models for our organization that are more inclusive and welcoming. We ask for your participation in this process, so that we can create something that reflects and serves the entire LGBTQIA+ community in the Kansas City area, and practices the value of inclusion at every level.
Step Four: Action.
- We are currently planning our Equality Teen Prom, along with a few other events. We will be seeing these events through, but beginning May 7, we will be taking a major step back in operations. The Center will be closing or drastically reducing our drop-in hours, and canceling all events held at our physical location. This will give us the space to dive deeper into learning and improving all that we do. This temporary inconvenience represents a major shift in focus for our board and staff. We want you to know that we take our renewed commitment to inclusion very seriously, and are prepared to devote all of our energies to its pursuit. More details on this temporary shift are forthcoming.
- The Center will pursue education in order to improve inclusivity. We will provide ongoing training for the board, staff, and volunteers. Mandt System Trainings are already scheduled for May. We are looking into several others. We commit to full transparency as we pursue education and explore these issues. The Center operates on a very tight budget, but will be paying organizations and individuals for providing training and education to us.
- We will be sending out weekly emails updating the community about what steps we are taking, what topics we are learning about, what trainings we have scheduled, as well as updates regarding the building, events, and ways to access our programs and resources.
- The Center will seek out the community’s involvement as we move forward by scheduling accessible town hall meetings. We have already started the process of changing our approach to meetings, and we will continue to develop this and communicate our plans. We will strive to set higher standards for ourselves. We will strive to include the community in the process. We will strive for positive, equitable change.
Thank you for your time in reading this post. The Kansas City Center for Inclusion encourages discussion and welcomes questions. We value the thoughts and feelings of our entire community in regards to this issue, no matter what they are. Hateful or threatening comments towards individuals for expressing their views will be removed. We also want to recognize the boundaries of our one staff member. Please give them time to reply to comments and messages within a day or two, and understand that they are not permitted to engage outside of their paid hours.
We are sorry to those we have hurt. We are committed to doing better. We believe in the mission and promise of the KC Center for Inclusion, and believe that this dream is worth pursuing wholeheartedly. Thank you for holding us to a higher standard. We love this community and are committed to serving you better.