Last summer, the Education Standing Committee approved a policy titled “Supporting Transgender Youth Participants in Young Friends.” The Young Friends community experienced disruption, hurt and anger when they learned of the contents of the policy, which called for new practices in the program that were not affirming to participants’ gender identities. This policy as well as many of the reactions to it created pain and tension in and among many different individuals and groups across the yearly meeting, primarily the Young Friends community, Education Standing Committee, and staff. (To see the policy and other documents about its history, scroll to the bottom).
This spring there will be an opportunity for reconciliation among those affected in the Young Friends community, the Education Standing Committee and PYM staff. A few months ago the staff consulted with the standing committee and then began to explore partnering with FGC’s travelling ministries program in search of an appropriately gifted Friend who could shepherd a reconciliation and listening process for relevant parties. A Friend from outside PYM travelling here to support us in this process has the benefit of being removed from the immediate circumstances of the struggle and pain around the policy. After some discernment, Elaine Bishop has been selected and agreed to serve in this role. Elaine is a member of Canadian Yearly Meeting with gifts in reflective listening who has helped Quaker groups engage in conflict resolution from the monthly meeting to the yearly meeting level.
In early May Elaine will meet individually (likely by phone or video call for the most part) with any members of the Young Friends community who wish to speak with her. On Saturday May 10th she will meet in person with Young Friends as a group – any Young Friend who would like to meet is welcome to join, in person or virtually. Elaine will return in person at a later date (yet to be announced) to bring together Young Friends, staff and Education Standing Committee members in a meeting for reconciliation. It is the hope that by this process the Young Friends community can move through any remaining pain or tension left over from the Education Standing Committee’s policy or from following discussions within the Young Friends community. For more information about this process or to arrange the opportunity to meet with Elaine individually contact Hannah Mayer, Young Friends Program Coordinator, at 215-241-7222.
Detailed accounts of last summer’s occurrences are available on the PYM website:
- Posting the policy: July 19th news item
- Clerk’s suspension of the policy: July 24th news item
- Relevant Sessions minutes, including the “Report from the Conversation on the Transgender Youth Policy”: page 10 and 11 of July 25th Minutes
Young Friends community’s processes and responses on the topic:
- Young Friends’ Business Meeting notes from Sessions: July 25th and July 27th
- Young Friends’ Business Meeting notes from Camp Onas Gathering: August 23rd