Jewish gay group outlines LGBT-friendly benchmarks for Jewish organizations


BALTIMORE (JTA) — A gay advocacy group created a series of guidelines for gauging and improving policies at Jewish communal organizations regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons.

The Jewish Organization Equality Index provides benchmarks for making organizations welcoming to LGBT Jews. The index was funded by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group. The group also surveyed Jewish organizations on their LGBT-related policies, but only 10 percent of Jewish groups approached agreed to participate in the survey, skewing the results toward gay-friendly organizations.

Even among the 204 groups that participated, however, 75 percent had not specifically recruited LGBT individuals to their lay leadership board in the past three years, and 79 percent failed to target the LGBT community in workplace recruitment efforts.

“We applaud the organizations that participated and are taking important steps to foster LGBT inclusion, but we still have a long way to go until LGBT Jews — indeed, all Jews — are embraced as full and vital members of the Jewish family in every aspect of communal life," said Lynn Schusterman, a major Jewish philanthropist and one of the index’s funders. "We have an opportunity to use these findings to truly commit ourselves to the vital but challenging work of forging a culture in which inclusivity, diversity and equality are paramount. The question is, will we?”

Other funders include the Morningstar Foundation, Stuart Kurlander and an anonymous donor.

The survey’s findings were presented Sunday night at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

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