In every conversation I’ve had with Young Life staff and leadership since “Do Better Young Life” began nearly a year ago, the one attainable ask we all felt we could get from the ministry was public clarity. Perhaps one day that will come. In my view it is harmful for youth to be asked to wait for that. This deceptive cycle of a welcome road to rejection doesn’t break until that moment comes.
Young Life has not been clear about their anti-LGBTQ+ policies, they are internal about this language and many youth get deeply involved just to be later rejected for their gender or sexuality. It’s a bait and switch and it’s a betrayal by a community that sought you out and changed the course of your life for the ultimate destination of rejection. It is obvious to everyone that this is wrong. Regardless of intent, change was necessary.
Last week I received a copy of the internal language Young Life has released to their area directors laying out internal clarity so that the ministry of Young Life would have language moving forward in the wake of countless stories of spiritual abuse, harm, and lasting trauma.
The immediate thing to point out is that this still is private, hidden, secret, and not yet the public clarity that would end this cycle of deception. Be that as it may, this document is now accessible to the public and youth and families can clearly read that their gay or trans youth is not safe in the hands of this ministry and that all youth are subject to these harmful beliefs and practices. Young Life has given clear language that despite the harm they have caused, they will not be changing their practices or their policies. Kindness coupled with bigotry is often even more harmful and more deceptive. Young Life will not achieve their goal through gaslighting coupled with kindness. Young Life has made it clear that if you do not align with with their antiquated views of gender and sexuality, you should not serve in this ministry.
After reading this document, I frankly could not agree more.
Young Life has given clear language to their staff that this cannot be fought from within. They have given clear language that these stories of harm will not bring change.
My strongest recommendation if you care about the lives of LGBTQ+ youth, adults, and Christians is to leave staff. Volunteer elsewhere. Stop giving. Do not send your child to their camps. Begin the work of righting this wrong another way.
It is important for me to say here that I gave a third of my life to this ministry. I am not saying this out of bitterness, out of hatred, or out of some angry need for revenge. Im certainly upset, but those postures are not in my heart here. I’m saying this because I’ve seen what this does to queer people. I’ve participated in the harm myself and I desperately want to break that cycle. I’m saying this out of the need to protect young people from harm.
Young Life desires to be safe and hospitable to every youth. Despite serious efforts to communicate that they have not met this bar, they have double down as detailed in the attached document.
As another year of summer camp will soon set out, it’s important for families to understand this and make informed decisions accordingly. My encouragement in this matter is to choose love. My encourgement for all is to not believe the lie that meaningful relationships with youth are not possible if you leave. They are so possible.
This document is available to view here: Young Life “Further Clarity” document