What’s in a name? Plenty, if it’s one as well known around the world as the YMCA (are you singing that song in your head yet?).

Having such a wellrecognised name means that many people think they know exactly who we are and what we do — or what we’re supposed to do. At first glance, it seems straightforward what YMCA stands for — it’s right there in the name, after all, since 1844: Young Men’s Christian Association.

Except for decades, YMCAs have been open to all, regardless of ability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background. Not just youth, not just men, not just Christians.

Though we cherish our long and rich heritage, being known as The Young Men’s Christian Association no longer reflects the reality of our organisation, which is inclusive, embraces diversity and openness and offers programmes and services for everyone. So, like all the other associations across Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the United States and other places around the world, in the last couple of years we’ve chosen to call ourselves by an already familiar name — The Y.

We’re delighted that ‘‘The Y’’ has been so readily welcomed and embraced by the communities we serve.

However, to a few, our change to ‘‘The Y’’ has been interpreted as turning our backs on our roots and founding principles. We get pushback on social media and elsewhere from a small but vocal contingent that we’ve abandoned and betrayed ‘‘Christian’’ values.

This happens in particular with disappointing regularity and increasing vitriol any time we promote our programmes and services that support our Rainbow and transgender communities, as we’re now doing in the leadup to Pride Month.

We find it difficult to recognise anything in these hateful comments that we would equate with the Christian teaching of ‘‘Love your neighbour’’.

Our guiding principles have always been our four core values — Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility — and we strive to uphold them in all of our mahi. In an increasingly polarised political and economic climate, upholding those values has never been more important. We see ourselves not as a faithbased organisation, but rather as an organisation that seeks to honour the inherent mana of all people and to provide a safe, supportive, accepting space for people to realise their potential and to simply be their best selves.

Whakamana takata, Whakamana taiohi: through empowering the mana of people, we empower the mana of youth.

So, whatever your background, culture, age, ethnicity, gender, ability, religion or sexual orientation, The Y sees you and welcomes you. We all belong at The Y.