House of Deputies of The Episcopal Church

Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation Legislation

In February 2018, House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings appointed a Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation to draft legislation for the 79th General Convention. The 47-member committee submitted 24 resolutions and one memorial and endorsed two resolutions submitted by others. Its activities resulted in the following legislation being enacted. 

Theology and Language

Legislation from the Theology and Language subcommittee calls for education about and use of bias-free, expansive and inclusive language in seminaries, congregations and other organizations within the church, as well as in future liturgical resources, including any revisions to the Book of Common Prayer.

Structural Equity

Legislation resulting from the work of the Structural Equity subcommittee establishes an Anti-Sexism Task Force to develop a churchwide training program, calls for all benefit-eligible positions for deacons and priests to be publicly posted, and authorizes the study of the status of female musicians in the church. It extends non-discrimination access policies to any church call or employment, removes the disclosure of sex and annual compensation in the OTM profile, and asks the Church Pension Fund to include more specific data on gender identity in its Clergy Compensation report and to study steps necessary to provide equity in pension plans.

Title IV and Training

The work of the Subcommittee on Title IV and Training resulted in a three-year suspension of the statute of limitations for Title IV complaints (i. e. disciplinary complaints of sexual misconduct against clergy) and guaranteed confidentiality for whistleblowers. The possibility of expanding the church’s Title IV disciplinary canons to lay leaders and the addition of a Churchwide Intake Officer to the Title IV process were referred to interim bodies.

Truth and Reconciliation

The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Subcommittee resulted in the establishment of a Task Force for Women, Truth and Reconciliation.

  • D016 — Seeking Truth, Reconciliation, and Restoration establishes a Task Force for Women, Truth, and Reconciliation “for the purpose helping the Church engage in truth-telling, confession, and reconciliation regarding gender-based discrimination, harassment, and violence against women and girls in all their forms by those in power in the Church, making an accounting of things done and left undone in thought, word, and deed, intending amendment of life, and seeking counsel, direction, and absolution as we are restored in love, grace, and trust with each other through Christ.”

Social Justice for Women

The work of the Social Justice for Women Subcommittee calls for domestic violence education for clergy and congregations, and the examination of the church’s response to domestic violence. It opposes inhumane immigration policies, regulations that limit safety net programs, sexual harassment, assault and exploitation in the workplace, and promotes gender equity in healthcare.

The committee also endorsed D087, which amended the rules of order of the House of Deputies to permit nursing or bottle-feeding on the floor of the house.