Winter 2014 Grants Seek New Narratives of Inclusion

January 20, 2015
Developing a “counter-narrative” to the conservative ideology of global Christian movements that embraces LGBT community members is the focus of several organizations receiving funding in the winter 2014 portfolio of Arcus Foundation Social Justice Program grants. The European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Christian Groups (EF) has been credited with changing attitudes and opening doors for dialogue on sexuality and faith, particularly within the World Council of Churches, whose member congregations represent 500 million Christians, more than half of them in the developing world. The EF intends to use Arcus support to pursue its successful strategy of shifting traditional views, responding to homophobic Catholic Church Family-Synod decisions, and continuing to counteract homophobic and transphobic values in a variety of forums.

Reversing anti-LGBT religious narratives is also the goal of Political Research Associates, which has exposed the virulent anti-gay activity exported by the U.S.-based Christian conservative movement into African and South American religious communities. PRA’s reports and handbooks serve as critical supports for those fighting religiously motivated homophobia in Africa, and with funding, the organization will continue to publish and engage African scholars, clergy, and activists to develop more welcoming faith-based language on human sexuality.

The Just and Fair Schools Fund (housed at NEO Philanthropy, formerly Public Interest Projects) has achieved stunning progress in school-discipline reform. The fund’s grantees in low-income communities of color have successfully challenged policies that unfairly and disproportionately target LGBT youth, resulting in a 50 percent decline in school-based arrests in San Francisco and in support for restorative justice programs in additional cities. Funding will help this national network ensure that progressive discipline policies are based on social and emotional learning and reduce the use of exclusion as a punitive measure in major school districts throughout the United States.

Following on its significant victories for transgender Americans in 2013, including the U.S. Social Security Administration’s easing the process for changing one’s gender on official forms, the National Center for Transgender Equality will use funding to secure additional federal polices related to fair treatment of transgender individuals and conduct a major survey of the population in the United States.

Seeking justice for transgender people of color and youth, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project plans to work toward the elimination of the youth and prisoner exclusion of the New York state birth certificate gender-marker change policy and to reverse New York state’s discriminatory Medicaid rules regarding transgender health care. The organization is also working to end involuntary segregation of transgender prisoners in the state and toward the adoption of a transgender housing policy.

The use of cultural messaging to broaden public awareness of LGBT issues is the aim of a grant to the Sundance Institute. Raising the voices of new storytellers, the institute will introduce or advance to the next stage of production a set of films with LGBT themes, including those addressing transgender concerns, communities of color, and stories of LGBT issues outside of the United States.

Among others, additional grants were also made to Akahata – Equipo de Trabajo en Sexualidades y Generos, Boston Area Gay & Lesbian Youth, Chemchemi Ya Ukwell, Friends of PM, Freedom to Marry, Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of Colorado, Gill Foundation, Iranti-Org, Many Voices, Other Sheep Africa, Resource Center Dallas, SisterLove, and ZANERELA+.

For a full listing of Social Justice Program grants announced in the Winter 2014 round, please visit our Grantees section.