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Center Develops New Safeguards
by Amy Wooten
2008-04-01

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Because troublemakers have threatened the safe space that Center on Halsted provides for LGBT youth, the Center has had to develop new procedures to ensure everyone's safety.

For two days, the Center had to crack down on youth entering the building while new procedures were created. Youth involved in Center on Halsted's programs played a large part in the process, helping create procedures and a jury of their peers.

'We had a number of outbreaks of major fights here,' said Center on Halsted Executive Director Modesto 'Tico' Valle.

The fights, which were caused by youth from outside the LGBT community, according to Center on Halsted, led to two days of meetings with youth in order to gather their imput as to what should be done. For two days, the Center monitored who came into the Center, and told youth that they had to be participating in the problem-solving town hall or leave.

'The youth had wonderful ideas,' said Valle. He said the youth, who have been 'instrumental' in resolving the issues, came up with their own consequences for misbehavior and a jury of their peers. They are also working with Center on Halsted staff to identify youth who are not part of the program and are coming in to exploit it.

A large number of youth have flocked to the Center since it opened. An increasing number of complaints over the past several years by community members and business owners regarding youth who hang out in Boystown led to a contentious town hall meeting regarding LGBT youth held at the Center last fall.

Valle called the recent two-day town hall meeting 'positive.'

'Now we are moving forward and implementing a lot of the thoughts that came from that,' he said.

Now that the youth meetings are over, the Center is back to normal and has a plan of action, Valle assured Windy City Times.

'Not only do we want to make it a safe place for our youth, but we want to make it a safe place for everyone,' Valle said.


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