Letter: A few questions for Encircle House regarding diversity and funding

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Thousands participate in the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City on Sunday June 2, 2019.

As a queer person in Utah, I find that I must express my dismay at the expansion plans that Encircle House had put forth. While I will not fault the valid and important message that is manifested by this group through their work in support of at-risk LGBTQI youth, I am troubled by the reports of their plans to spend $8 million to expand the number of locations that they offer services.

While I am quite sure that the clients of their programs have benefited, I do not see that benefit being equal to the funds spent. As an active member of the greater queer community, I do not see this group doing outreach for their programs. What little local outreach I do see, does not seem to be inclusive of economic diversity, nor do I see an effort from this group to include people of color.

I am willing of course to be wrong in this. I am simply stating what little I know about this group. With the kind of budget, it seems they have, I would expect perhaps great things, and to be blunt I do not see an outcome that would be worthy of what they are spending.

When the community has great needs, is a program that seems to have a very limited focus, that serves a very small segment of the population; able to ethically justify what they do?

I would put forth the following question: Encircle House, while your intent is not the problem, is the community served by a vanity program, or could the funds be better used by other groups who support a larger client base? Could you still do much of what you strive for, and support other groups with greater needs?

Owen D. Edwards, Salt Lake City

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