UPDATE: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Youth Programs Transgender Policy has been suspended by action of the Clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
We invite you to read the full update posted on the PYM website.
Below is the original news article as posted on July 19,2013:
Last September, the Education Standing Committee began the process of developing a policy around the inclusion and support of transgender and gender non-conforming youth in our programs. The process was initiated by youth program staff, seeking guidance and support from the committee for the practices to support transgender youth. This report includes an overview of the last year’s process and a status update about the policy.
In August, staff began talking with the Young Friends about how the community can be inclusive of transgender kids. In September of 2012 the ESC invited a guest to their meeting to provide a mini Trans 101 course for them. They received a suggested draft policy from staff and began their discussions. The committee asked that the practice for bathroom and sleeping arrangements that was in place at the 2012 Sessions and the August Camp Onas Young Friends event continue while the policy was being developed. That practice was, with staff input and involvement, to support transgender and gender non-conforming program participants in making their own decisions about what housing and bathroom arrangements would make them feel comfortable, safe, and affirmed.
Over the course of the year a member of the committee attended several Young Friends gatherings including a business meeting where an agenda item included logistical practices and support for transgender participants. The committee wanted to hear from adults who nurture our youth and held two conversations in April for parents and other adults invested in the youth program. In June the committee approved a policy and forwarded it to staff. The policy was shared with relevant staff, the youth clerks of Young Friends and the transgender youth participants. As staff, youth and their families heard the ESC policy, they voiced strong reactions of concern for the sense of safety and inclusion for transgender participants. Staff have shared these concerns back to the committee with a request that the committee reconsider the policy. Sessions staff made arrangements for housing the Young Friends program at Sessions in a dorm with all single rooms and bathrooms so that the program could continue its current practice without being out of compliance with any policy. The committee is reviewing the concerns raised and PYM’s liability policy.
We are seeking further insight and discernment
The Education Standing Committee is hosting a conversation about the transgender policy at Sessions on Thursday, July 25 at 1:30. A meeting with the committee and staff following Sessions to review and discuss the policy further is being planned. The policy can be read below. Friends who wish to communicate with the committee may send an email to email@example.com for forwarding to the committee members.
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Education Standing Committee
Policy Supporting Transgender Youth Participants in Young Friends
The Young Friends program values itself as a community that is spiritually grounding, welcoming, fun and emotionally safe and for all members of the community. Transgender youth have been present in the Young Friends community sporadically for the last few decades, and now the Young Friends’ clerks and Youth Program staff thought it time to consciously and intentionally seek a path forward that cares for everyone’s inclusion –those who are transgendered, those who are not, the staff and volunteers who work with the program and the parents who have entrusted us with their children.
- To maintain the emotionally safe and welcoming community of Young Friends
- To maintain open communication so that members of the community can express their experience and concerns in the spirit of supporting Friends into learning and opening.
- To keep the locus of responsibility for addressing concerns for the sense of community with the Young Friends community.
- To provide direction for procedures for housing, clothing changes, bathroom use and other intimate aspects of community which address, to the best extent possible, the needs of the entire group.
- The Young Friends, with the support of the Permanent Nurturers and the adults in the community, are responsible for attending to structures, processes, language and intangibles that create a community so that the Young Friends program is inclusive and welcoming of all participants.
- With respect to activities that have an intimate aspect to them, such as sleeping room assignments, using bathrooms and changing clothes, the following shall be observed:
All participants will use the sleeping and bathroom arrangements in alignment with their biological sex. All bathroom, showers, sleeping and changing quarters will be clearly marked as “male” or “female.” In a facility with one bathroom, it is to be used by one gender at a time.
- A number of FAPs and staff will be educated in concerns of gender identity and adolescents and will be available as resources and nurturers and question-answerers for the community.
- It is recognized that we are making policy in an area that has little precedent. We will return to this policy and to the effects of it on a regular basis at the community and at the administrative levels (at Young Friends events, with parents and in oversight committees such as Education Standing Committee) to assess the effectiveness and the supportiveness of the policy.
- This policy is directed specifically toward the needs for being an inclusive community for Friends regardless of their gender identity. Issues of behavior and boundaries around sexual and romantic interactions are separate issues and need to be addressed according to the rules and policies in place for them.