The Religious Institute is a multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. They define sexually healthy and responsible congregations as ones being free from sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct. They measure sexual health and responsibility among congregations and seminaries by the existence of explicit policies, procedures, and practices that keep children, youth and vulnerable adults safe from abuse and harassment. They recommend strong codes of conduct among religious professionals and clear safeguards for clergy and congregants to ensure safety for all.
In past years they recognized how few clergy-preparation schools incorporated sexual education and policy into their institutional culture. For example, according to their research thirty-one leading seminaries and rabbinical schools now meet a majority of the criteria for a sexually healthy and responsible seminary, compared to only ten in 2009. The Religious Institute evaluates each institution on criteria measures including sexuality content in curriculum, institutional commitment to sexuality and gender equity (e.g., the existence of anti-discrimination, sexual harassment and inclusion policies), and advocacy and support for sexuality-related issues.
Here were some conclusions from the report:
- More than 90% of the seminaries surveyed do not require full-semester, sexuality-based courses for graduation
- Two-thirds of the seminaries do not offer a course in sexuality issues for religious professionals.
- Seminaries offer three times as many courses in women's and feminist studies as they do in LGBT studies or other sexuality-related issues.
You can find their report here.
Find a list of criteria for a Sexually Healthy and Responsible Seminary here.
Find a Congregational Self-Assessment form here to examine the current safety measures of your congregation.