Notes from Pink Youth Summit, July 6, 2017

Notes from the Pink Youth Summit

July 7, 2017

At the Mennonite Church USA convention in Orlando in 2017, 40 youth and young adults met for three hours together and in break out groups to discuss on their visions of the future church related to healthy LGBTQ involvement. These are the main themes.

~Youth articulated their visions, and we’ve tried to make that accessible to Future Church Summit participants~

What Makes it Difficult to Communicate with Older Generations

  • people under ~24 have a different, more innate way of understanding complex sexual identity and gender
  • There are also cultural differences b/t sex-positive younger generation & sex-negative older generations
  • We want adults to be patient and try to learn these concepts:
    • Gender vs. Sex. Sex is the biological difference b/t males and females; Gender refers to one’s perceived role in society and/or individuals. These often align in people but not always
    • Bisexuality. a person who is attracted to more than one gender
    • Gender Fluidity. Understanding gender is a spectrum & how we perceive it evolves
    • Gender Identity vs. Gender Expression. GI = innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend, or neither. GE = external appearance of one’s gender identity which may or may not conform to social norms
    • Queer. a formerly-derogatory term now used as general term for LGBTQ people
    • Intersectionality. The interconnected nature of social categories like race, class, gender, etc.
  • Tips for Older People: Ask Questions. Listen to their experiences. Being willing to share your experiences. Find ways to recognize genders other than male/female (third gender, gender queer, etc).

How do queer Mennonites interact with the Bible?

  • The traditional interpretations of some passages can be harmful, and we would like to see conscious reinterpretation of passages that have a negative connotation to us:
    • Not just clobber passages
    • Genesis 1 (creation of 1 man, 1 woman)
    • Words like repent, submit, Rapture
    • Paul and epistles
    • Leviticus
    • Sodom and Gomorrah
    • We want to see what these passages can speak into LGBTQ spirituality:
      • Eunuchs
      • Mary (Luke 1)
      • Ruth & Naomi
      • David & Jonathan
  • We understand that different translations have different biases
  • We value translations including: inclusive (gender neutral pronouns for God), The Message, Common English Bible, and Young’s Literal

Creating Non-gender Bathrooms

  • it is a valuable goal to build multi-stall bathrooms open to people in uncomfortable in single-gender bathrooms
  • Some young Mennonites have already worked in successful campaigns for gender neutral bathrooms in their high schools and (Mennonite) colleges
  • Reasons for gendered bathrooms include: modesty, false gender binary, concern that men are dangerous to women, adults dangerous to children
    • All of these concerns can be addressed & are outweighed by the benefits of gender neutral bathrooms
  • Some youth see male/female bathrooms as a civil rights issue similar to segregated bathrooms

How Homophobia is Manifest in the Church

  • Tension in relationships due to your discomfort
  • Queer bodies struggling from poor self-esteem
  • Queer people being ashamed of being honest about themselves
  • Physical abuse
  • Tokenization/pressure to represent all queer people
  • Being perceived as only queer (not as a complex person)
  • High suicide rates among queer people
  • Heightened negative mental health concerns due to unsupportive family and church
  • Assumption that everyone is straight
  • Fear, anxiety, stress around coming out

Ways to Support a Youth (adult) Coming Out

  • In our experience, these practices support a person coming out:
    • Having out members and people who have been through this before
    • Not just a “sense of welcome,” but explicit statements of welcome
    • In some environments, come out to small groups first
    • Having other LGBTQ family/friends/mentors to walk alongside
    • Once someone’s out, showing consistent support and normalizing
    • It’s often easier to come out to non-religious people than in church
  • …and beyond coming out
    • Standing up for queer people to friends, peers, etc.
    • Having allies in the front lines
    • Listening again and again and again
    • Churches use education materials (i.e., from BMC) to increase understanding

Ways to Create (More) Queer Friendly Worship

  • Use inclusive language for God (multiple or no pronouns)
  • When singing, use language of separating by parts, not gender
  • Incorporating queer Bible commentary and theology into worship life
  • Use LGBTQ person in all aspects of worship & ministry (invite them to volunteer)
  • Recognize significant LGBTQ events in prayer time
  • Providing space—for queer weddings, meetings, etc.
  • Make space physically accessible for ppl with disabilities
  • Be aware of what images of God/Jesus are in your church and what message they send
  • Designate gender neutral bathrooms
  • Teach about sexuality& LGBTQ spirituality in Sunday School or sermon series

What We Want to See From the Church

  • Clarifying welcoming statements in individual congregations & denominationally
  • Less discrimination
  • Physical demonstrations of acceptance in church
  • Full participation in church life
  • Recognizing that Mennonite men defy gender roles through conscientious objection
  • New understandings of masculinity (as not tough, unemotional, etc.)
  • Recognition of the violence that has been/is being done
  • More conversations about sex in general—get comfortable with it!
Posted in Orlando '17
2 comments on “Notes from Pink Youth Summit, July 6, 2017
  1. June Mears Driedger says:

    This is a helpful summary, especially the inclusive worship suggestions. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Elena says:

    Please address Transgender in your vocabulary and all other conversations

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