Part of the role and responsibility of the Clerk of Yearly Meeting is to provide spiritual leadership. This comes in many forms. One of which is the care of the community.
It has come to the attention of our leadership that the recent Youth Programs Transgender Policy, in particular regarding to the use of bathrooms, showers, sleeping and changing quarters, has caused many among us confusion, pain and hurt.
These emotions are not uncommon to the human condition, and we will face these emotions again. It is part of our Quaker process to struggle together towards our understanding of how God is leading us. The Education Standing Committee has been faithful to this process and will continue to be under the weight of this concern. This is illustrated by their working over the course of several committee meetings to consider a policy; planning several regional listening sessions, including the Thursday 1:30 PM listening session at Sessions; their willingness to receive comments by email; and their commitment to reevaluate the policy in the fall. For this faithful attention to our process, I deeply thank them.
As we move into Sessions, outweighing all other concerns is the degree to which this policy may require Friends to act in ways inconsistent with our testimony of equality, and the level of separation and pain implementing the policy has thus far caused. I see clearly, that protecting a space for Friends to sit with the Divine is the primary responsibility of our Clerk. Based on this, under my role as Clerk and with the support of the Alternate Clerks, I am immediately suspending the Youth Programs Transgender Policy until after the Education Standing Committee has completed a reevaluation in the fall.
For some this is may seem to be overreaching my authority, and this may be true. But let me be clear, there is only one way forward, and that is with Love. Regardless if Friends support or do not support this policy:
- All Friends are and will remain welcome on our worship benches;
- All views, and any associated pain or hurt related to them, should be shared in a way that does not intentionally inflict additional pain or hurt;
- Friends are and will be asked to come with open hearts and minds;
- Friends are and will be asked to stand clearly in their Truth, and to respect other Friends that may not be in the same space;
- Friends are asked to hold all of us during process.
- I join the Education Standing Committee in encouraging Friends to share views and to hold the committee in prayer as they continue their work concerning this policy.
- I look forward to your time together that Sessions.
Jada S. Jackson
Clerk, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends