Creating safety: the Interfaith Network for Queer Youth

LGBTQ advocacy in San Francisco? We don’t need that, right? Wrong! LYRIC, an organization that has supported and empowered San Francisco queer youth for the last 25 years is asking for our support. Some of the work that they have done includes afterschool programs; proms; job training; anti-bullying programs in the San Francisco schools (yes, we have that problem in our schools like everywhere else); and mentoring of all kinds. This year, LYRIC recognizes that the spiritual dimension of their youth is something that needs supporting too. 

How can faith communities support queer youth? That’s a question that is explored by asking more questions. Beginning in January 2014, LYRIC called together faith leaders from many denominations to explore these issues and the Interfaith Network for Queer Youth was born. The core planning team is made up of local Episcopal, Methodist, MCC, and Lutheran leaders. Two larger meet and greets welcomed more denominations and community leaders who were excited about challenging their congregations to think about ways of meeting queer youth where they are at and creating safety in their congregations.

The first actions the Network is planning to initiate include dialogue, reflection, and commitment. During the months to come, our hope is that communities of faith will make a commitment to share what we have to offer to youth that often have to face rejection, discrimination and violence as a result of homophobia and transphobia, well as all the other concurrent challenges of racism, misogyny, poverty, and lack of resources. 

The commitment being asked is that our congregations sign on to becoming a members of the Interfaith Network for Queer Youth in time for National Coming Out Day on October 11, 2014. The draft of this commitment asks that we:

• Are committed to opening dialogue with our entire faith community around how we can more authentically stand in support of queer youth.

• Are committed to creating space for adults to learn and ask questions about the complex identities of queer youth and issues impacting them in today’s world.

• Are committed to a better understanding of how we can create safety for queer youth in our own faith community.

• Are committed to using our voice and influence to advocate for the issues impacting queer youth and participate in conversations as strong allies.

• Are committed to supporting queer youth community-based organizations and direct service providers by empowering them to continue meeting needs of queer youth.

• Are committed to embracing what we know, what we do not know, and what we will soon know, and sharing it with others.

We are called to be strong allies. How that ultimately looks for each congregation is not a given. What should be is the desire to embrace, heal and strengthen queer youth as they grow into adulthood. Our call is to love as God loves and in turn facilitate the self love that will help queer youth become resilient for the challenges they face now and in the future.

Please, sign on!

For more information contact the Rev. Diana Wheeler at dianarwheeler@gmail.com and check out the LYRIC website, www.LYRIC.org.