January 31, 2017
Compiled by Courtney Eiland, Website & Social Media Coordinator
Charles A. Sumpter, Jr. serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for Safe Space, Inc. The mission of Safe Space, Inc. is to provide a safe, accepting, and supportive environment to combat social stigmas, bullying, and other challenges faced by LGBT+ youth.
Although the organization targets Northern Virginia — primary Alexandria, as well as Arlington and Fairfax County — Sumpter feels the work of Safe Space, Inc. is also needed in many places across the country.
“Growing up in New York City, I saw firsthand social stigmas, drug abuse among friends, depression, and the list goes on,” said Sumpter. “There were some organizations like Safe Space, Inc., but they couldn’t meet the needs of all those facing these challenges. We need more organizations like Safe Space, Inc. to spring up in communities. It’s my hope to have chapters of this organization across the country — in small towns and in big cities.”
Sumpter is an outspoken advocate, who also serves as Chairman of the Alexandria Commission on HIV/AIDS, working to increase support for prevention efforts and advocating for those hit hardest. His active involvement in the community, personal ties to the organization, and wealth of knowledge as it relates to LGBT issues all lead to his passion and drive behind breaking down barriers in the LGBT community.
“Discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes and I remember growing up not always feeling as confident and self-assured as I do today. I had a loving and supportive family that helped me get through difficult points in my life,” he said.
Unfortunately, not all LGBT youth are welcomed and embraced in such a supportive environment. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 22% of LGBT youth say their biggest problems are not feeling accepted by their family, trouble at school/bullying, and a fear to be out/open. These issues are also why Safe Space, Inc. seeks to target the 14-18 year old age range as they are most susceptible to bullying, drug abuse, homelessness, violence, and suicidal ideations and may seek to take matters into their own hands. “The challenges we combat, directly impact individuals in this age group. Many in this age group are being bullied and dealing with a whole host of issues and concerns. We can all remember when we were this age and know how vitally important it is to have folks you can identify with, help you along the way,” said Sumpter.
By serving on the board and remaining invested in the mission of Safe Space, Inc., Sumpter hopes to continue to spread the powerful and impactful message of this organization to like-minded individuals and allies. “If we can save the life of one child dealing with societal challenges like suicide or drug abuse, we would have made a huge difference,” he proclaimed. “That is what I hope to do, one child at a time.”