By Elisabeth Parker
18 May 2016
As the transgender bathroom issue gathers steam it’s worth considering this grim fact: Despite all those transgender bathroom laws GOP state legislatures keep passing, a child is far more likely to be molested at church.
In 2014 the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) came out with a report on sexual abuse in the Catholic church. It turns out that from 1950-2013, 17,259 victims made accusations and 6,427 clerics had been counted as “not implausibly” or “credibly” accused. This doesn’t even account for underreporting or include the unusually large number victims who came forward in 2003 in the wake of the Boston Globe’s eye-opening report on sexual abuse in the Catholic church by their Spotlight team.
Alas, a transgender bathroom law wouldn’t have helped a single one of these victims, many of whom have had to live in silence with their trauma and shame for decades.
Meanwhile, for all of their yammering about gay marriage and public restrooms, evangelical protestant churches also have a lot to answer for. In 2015, the exposure of 19 and Counting’s Josh Duggar’s sexual proclivities revealed not only that America’s favorite Christian family wasn’t as wholesome as they seem (and that their faith community helped enable him). In February, the Washingtonian broke a story revealing decades of sexual abuse against children in Sovereign Grace Ministries, a suburban megachurch network.
Why transgender bathroom laws won’t prevent sexual abuse against children.
The majority of perpetrators are someone the child or family knows. As many as 93% of victims under the age of 18 know the abuser.
The above goes a long way towards explaining why a child, pre-teen or adolescent is more likely to be molested in church than in a transgender bathroom. In fact, evangelical leaders have grown concerned enough about sexual abuse in their ranks that Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) was launched to train, educate and help faith communities prevent this from happening. Alas, the facts revealed in a Powerpoint slide presentation show they’ve got a long slog ahead of them.