Should Young Life be allowed at LOHS?

Sophie Parks, Staffer

Remember the group of college adults that would swarm the middle school cafeterias every Friday? Their booths were decorated with prizes and candy, reeling in kids from left and right. As we grew older, the recruiters switched from games to handing out donuts during break. Their guest passes blared their names in bright red sharpie, clustering around the jocks and “popular kids” in the hallways. 

Young Life was created in 1941 with the intention of children embracing a proper introduction to Christianity. It’s a non-profit organization connected with over 1.5 million schools and universities around the world. They claim to promote a “friendship [between] adults who take the time to relate to kids in their world.” Throughout the year, adult leaders “build relationships with students attending the school to which they have been assigned.” Although they rarely meet on school campuses, their leaders and staff recruited many students during school hours. Their organization states that “any Young Life presence on school grounds always takes place in strict compliance with the First Amendment and within guidelines established by local school officials.” 

However, even if they appear to be following the “guidelines established by local school officials,” I don’t believe they should have been allowed to recruit at Lake Oswego when their policies didn’t always align with the school’s.

Upon joining Young Life, their preamble ensures: “We the members of the Young Life mission – trustees, staff, instructors at Young Life schools and volunteers – join together in our affirmation of the following articles.” One of these articles is their Sexual Misconduct policy, where the lines begin to blur. They state that “With regard to the delicate matter of homosexual lifestyle and practice, Young Life believes such activities to be clearly not in accord with God’s creation purposes.” They then go on to emphasize that “we therefore must state very clearly that Young Life staff members and volunteers shall not engage in sexual misconduct.” Even though they do “not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual misconduct,” they “do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.” People who identify as gay are not excluded from the club; however, they are not allowed to join higher positions of power or leadership within Young Life because it is treated as “sexual misconduct.”

Young Life’s sexual misconduct policy strongly conflicts with Lake Oswego High School’s Non-Discrimination policy, as described in “The Pilot – LOHS Student and Parent Handbook”: “It is the policy of the Lake Oswego School District that there will be no discrimination or harassment on any basis protected by law, including…sexual orientation…. or because of…sexual orientation of any other persons with whom the individual associates in any educational programs, activities, or employment.” The Pilot continues to state that “all school regulations shall apply to all club activities,” Young Life’s policy is in strict divergence regarding their recruitment presence in the school. 

When asked about their involvement with the school, Young Life staff declined to release any information regarding the guidelines and compliances in place. 

While Young Life currently does not have recruiters at the school, their presence in the years past worked against LOHS’ discriminatory statements. Lake Oswego staff needs to take more precaution and implement inclusive protocols in the future, especially when involving another organization promoting their religion and beliefs to students on campus.