CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — The motto of the Christian youth group Young Life is “you were made for this,” but some former members are calling the organization out over its LGBTQ policy, which came to light in a leaked document.
They say that ‘leaked document’ was only supposed to outline the expectations of leaders within the organization, not members. It’s not sitting well with those who say that Young Life needs to do better to support all of their members.
On its website, Young Life touts itself as a place to let children and young adults grow in their faith, and for many that became a part of it, that’s exactly what it was.
“A lot of people are attracted to Young Life because it appears to be really welcoming, really fun,” former member Mary told FOX 46.
“I realized that my beliefs and values were not lining up with their beliefs and values,” she said.
Last year, after pressure started mounting online, they announced they would be forming a council to look into reports of discrimination – specifically about race, gender and sexual orientation.
Just this month, the document that reportedly was meant to be private was leaked online and did not go over well.
“People are saying it’s unfair to come in under the guise of ‘you are made for this’, but actually ‘you were never made for this, we just didn’t tell you,’” former member Katie McCleary said.
McCleary is a former member of YoungLife, and said she had noticed issues over her time with the organization. She had seen the leaked document, which–among other things–said that those who are ‘same-sex attracted’ could be leaders within the organization, if they are celibate.
“I actually had a roommate of mine in college who wanted to be a YoungLife leader who was gay and she was told she wasn’t allowed to do that.”
FOX 46 reached out to Young Life. In a statement, they told us in part, “Young Life is for kids from all walks of life,” but noted that ‘like all religious organizations, young life expects that those seeking leadership positions to “support [our] beliefs, tenets, and policies.”
The organization added, “these are expectations of leaders, not for participants in YoungLife programs.”
They would not confirm the authenticity of that leaked document, but those who know this now say this information should not be kept private.
“If that’s how you’re going to run your organization, that needs to be public information,” Mary said. “People that are donating to you need to know that you are an anti-LGBTQ organization.”
FOX 46 reached out to see if that is under review. We are waiting to hear back.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM YOUNGLIFE
In July 2020, Young Life formed a council to review stories from members of our community who came forward to share instances where they had experienced pain based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Following its review of these stories, the council recommended Young Life take steps to bring clarity to staff and volunteers regarding two important expectations:
First, Young Life is for kids from all walks of life. Every kid is made in the image of God and deserves to be loved, respected and dignified. We are providing the leaders of our 8,500 local ministries with new resources and additional training to ensure they are equipped to create an environment in which every young person, regardless of sexual or gender identity, race, background or other factor, is welcomed with the love and understanding of faithful adults who personally demonstrate the compassion and truth of Jesus in both relationships and activities.
Second, like all religious organizations, Young Life expects that those seeking leadership positions support Young Life’s beliefs, tenets, and policies on a wide range of theological issues. One of those issues is human sexuality, and Young Life is confident — with continued study, prayer and reflection — that our theology is faithful to God’s vision for this important aspect of the human experience. We are working to ensure those who currently hold or may be interested in leadership positions in Young Life understand our beliefs and expectations. To be clear, these are expectations of leaders, not for participants in Young Life programs.
While these matters of theology are important, Young Life remains focused on supporting staff and volunteers around the world as they introduce kids of all backgrounds to Jesus and help them grow in their faith.