#MeToo Story-Gathering and Resources
In recent years, the #MeToo movement has attempted to open up conversations about sexual misconduct and the effect it has on all aspects of modern life. The church is by no means exempt from this conversation, so the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has created a place for those who have experienced, witnessed, or perpetrated sexual harassment or abuse to share their story. This form, open to people of all ages, along with procedures for reporting sexual misconduct can be found at diomass.org/MeToo. The #MeToo task force has also provided informational posters intended for display in bathrooms, offices, youth rooms, and parish halls. Copies of these posters in English and Spanish can be found on the website.
You may want to use the diocesan #MeToo resources to introduce the topic of sexual harassment in your Youth Group (or when the topic comes up even if you don’t plan on it). Additional resources that may be helpful include the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s series on preventing sexual harassment in schools, particularly the article on teaching consent at every age. In 2018, the House of Deputies published a Lenten series of reflections on #MeToo written by women in the church. The Litany of Penance for Ash Wednesday, which begins the series, is compelling and thought provoking, and could become a springboard for robust discussion (What is the misconduct here? What is wrong with this statement or action? What do you do when this happens?). However, please note the other reflections in the series deal with personal experiences of harassment and abuse, which may be difficult for young people to engage with in a safe and helpful way.
Most importantly, remember to listen to the young people around you when this issue comes up. Meet them where they are, and answer their questions with honesty and compassion. These are difficult conversations for everyone, but a culture of sexual misconduct hurts us all. An adult’s awkwardness about these conversations can encourage silence among our young people, and silence only upholds the status quo.
Finally, please ensure that all adult volunteers and employees in your Youth Ministry have access to the updated Model Policy for the Protection of Children and Youth and have completed all necessary Safe Church training.