Throughout the month of June, Pride celebrations have happened across our PYM region. As the month comes to a close we can carry on that spirit of affirmation and inclusion. In this year when religious groups and government legislation are fighting to repress queer youth and their families, PYM celebrates the importance of our LGBTQ+ community. The Youth Programs Advisory Committee recently approved a minute of support for the LGBTQ+ youth, staff, families, and volunteers in our Youth Programs, which was accepted in June by the Quaker Life Council. There is more work to do! Shared here is the YPAC minute in full, along with resources and reflections on how we can continue to educate and celebrate belonging for all in our local meetings and yearly meeting community.
The Youth Programs Advisory Committee expresses deep appreciation and acceptance for all LGBTQ+ youth, staff, families, and Friendly Presence volunteers in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and for all of the work done in the past to bring our Youth Programs to the place of inclusion and allyship, where they are now. We welcome and value inclusion as an integral part of the program. We endorse the continued goal to pursue full inclusion and are open to continue the process of adapting and improving in the spirit of community and continuing revelation. We value building and educating a Yearly Meeting that is responsive to the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
— Approved by the Youth Programs Advisory Committee on May 18, 2022. Quaker Life Council accepted the minute from the Youth Programs Advisory Committee on Saturday, June 18, 2022.
Voices for Educating Adults
We’re excited to share an excellent presentation from Aeryn Luminkith, Young Friends Co-Facilitator on the PYM Youth Programs staff!
Aeryn created this presentation, “Supporting Queer Youth”, for zir work community in another organization. Aeryn lifts up important information on four topics: Why it’s important to support queer youth; Who are we talking about?; Legislation affecting queer youth; and How to help.
The presentation is a recommended starting point for adult Friends who want to be allies to queer youth and their families. If you’re interested in having the slides for this presentation to share, reach out to YoungFriends@pym.org.
Additionally, for Friends working with older youth, this article from “Building Faith” has good ideas adaptable to a Quaker youth work context: “5 Ways to Support LGBTQ+ Youth in Your Church.”
For Younger Friends, too
“Gender Inclusive Children’s Ministry: Where To Start” has thoughtful, practical advice for creating more inclusive spaces for children’s programs — a great read for those leading Sunday morning programs!
Ki Gross (they/them) of Woke Kindergarten shares two “Woke Read Alouds” about gender expression and identity for children. Each video is playful, full of joy, and a thoughtful lesson for adults watching re: talking about gender with children.
- they, she, he, easy as abc by author, artist, activist Maya Gonzalez
- It Feels Good To Be Yourself: A Book about Gender Identity by Theresa Thorn, co-host of the parenting humor podcast One Bad Mother
Other Recommended Children’s Books:
- Being You: a First Conversation™️ about Gender by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli and Anne/Andy Passchier is a board book, appropriate for preschool, with a great “continue the conversation” glossary resource for parents, caregivers, and teachers.
- This Day in June by Gayle Pitman tells the story of a Pride parade, with an annotated explanation about each page in the back of the book. Also included: Note to Parents and Caregivers with sections on talking to children of different developmental stages about sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Intersectional Allies by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi introduces the stories of children from diverse backgrounds to explain how children’s safety concerns are shaped by their intersecting identities, such as class, sexuality, dis/ability, race, religion, and citizenship.
- A Church for All by Gayle Pitman, inspired by GLIDE Memorial Church in San Francisco, is a joyful celebration of LGBTQ+ people in a faith community.
Love & Belonging
Rae Dole currently serves on YPAC, after graduating from many years of participation and leadership in the Youth Programs:
Young Friends was so important to me. I am so fortunate and thankful to have such a loving and accepting religious community! Young Friends was the first time I was able to be myself. I am forever grateful for that! PYM and Quakerism in general has a long way to go but I’m glad I found my little queer oasis with you.
Are we listening to young people in our communities? In our language, behavior, practices, and choices, are we demonstrating that our meetings are places where there are people who they can trust? Are we trusting them to lead when it comes to their own needs? How are we creating spaces that welcome, include, celebrate, and nurture all youth?
Ensure our communities are welcoming and safe for all people
This statement is one of our PYM Strategic Directions, and it describes: “We will look courageously into the roots of inequity in our culture, be willing to see and feel the pain it can cause, and choose to do whatever is necessary to take risks and to change. We will dismantle imposed barriers in our yearly and monthly meeting structures and activities, which impede our experience of God within our communities and within ourselves. We seek to make the congregations inside of our meetinghouses reflect the beauty and diversity of the world outside of them.”
As Pride month ends for this year, the future before us needs our witness, allyship, and “holy troublemaking” to carry on the work of dismantling imposed barriers. Please join together in expressing gratitude to YPAC for their vision, and celebrate the many staff youth workers and volunteer Friendly Presences who have created spaces where queer youth and their allied peers know inclusion and belonging.