Read a version of this post on the The Huffington Post!
Last month, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was celebrated by millions across the country and around the world who believe that sexual orientation ought not to have bearing on whether you can serve and sacrifice for the country you love.
We at the Schusterman Family Foundation stood with those who welcomed this shift in direction for our country as it demonstrated that our nation is taking steps toward advancing openness and inclusivity of the LGBT community whose rich diversity strengthens the tapestry of interwoven identities embodying what it means to be an American.
Even more, the repeal of DADT offered proof that entrenched institutions can recognize the fallacy of previous decisions, change course and announce loudly and proudly that who you love should not limit what you do with your life.
Last summer, Lynn Schusterman called on Jewish organizations to join our Foundation in adopting non-discrimination hiring policies that specifically mention sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. She also challenged donors to join us in holding organizations accountable for doing so by making such policies a prerequisite for funding.
The call was met with heartfelt gratitude from LGBT individuals around the world, many of whom who were full of hope that the day would soon come when they would no longer have to live in fear of losing their jobs or sacrificing their sense of belonging within the Jewish community because of who they love.
Today, we are upping the ante on that call with a concrete next step to help organizations make these changes.
Together with The Morningstar Foundation, philanthropist Stuart Kurlander and an anonymous foundation, we are announcing the creation of a Jewish Community Equality Index, to be established and implemented by the Human Rights Campaign, as an expansion of HRC’s renowned workplace equality project index. Learn more about HRC’s Workplace Equality Project.
The index will survey and publicize information about the LGBT inclusivity practices and policies of up to 500 Jewish community organizations around the country. Perhaps most importantly, before that information is made public, each of the organizations surveyed will have the opportunity—and be provided with the help and support—to make their policies, programs, forms, PR materials, welcome packets, educator training and more, consistent with the message that the Jewish community is welcoming and inclusive of all those who seek to lead actively Jewish lives. That educational effort in the near term and the long term will be supported by Keshet’s nationally recognized educator training program.
Why push this further? Because there are hundreds of thousands of Jewish LGBT individuals who continue to feel marginalized, excluded or invisible within our community. Because we at our foundation are fighting alongside countless others to ensure that all Jews feel they have pride of place in the Jewish community. And because we believe that our community and, in turn, our nation benefits from every source of Jewish vitality and strength, including the creativity and vibrancy of LGBT Jews. A diverse Jewish community is a stronger, more robust Jewish community.
We know these changes will be hard to implement as our community grapples with what it means to alter entrenched policies and practices in dramatic and, perhaps for some, uncomfortable ways. But it is possible. We make it possible, by each of us committing to being part of a community that values how we love, not who we love.
You can join in this effort by talking about it with your friends, family and colleagues; by asking your synagogues, JCCs, Federations and other organizations about their policies and practices; and most importantly, by ensuring that all LGBT individuals know they are welcome in your home and as part of our community.