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Jan 11 2014

Secular Safe House Is a Great Idea

One of the most important functions of secular communities is providing a safe place for those who have left religion behind can be themselves and find support. But sometimes the need is far more immediate, especially when someone’s family has disowned them as a result of their beliefs. Troy Fitzgerald has a very ambitious idea, the development of Secular Safe Houses for those in such situations around the country.

The Mission of Secular Safe House is to provide physical “secular safe houses” via a network of facilities and private homes as well as a virtual community of support via the Internet for those coming out of religion, cults or as LGBT from a religious environment.

Coming out of religion as a non-believer or as LGBTQ from a religious background can be a lonely and scary experience. This is because those who surround us — those we call our “friends” and “family” — often will not accept us for who we are and what we now believe. Far too often we find those who are supposed to be there for us do not actually love us unconditionally and may even kick us to the curb, literally, because we have come to accept our true identity and reality.

Countless numbers of people suffer this kind of rejection and alienation every day and it keeps those who might otherwise come out living in darkness and chaos. That’s why we are creating Secular Safe House — a safe refuge for those coming out of religion, cults or as LGBT from religious backgrounds.

We are in the process of building a network of professionals, volunteers, private homes and facilities so that we can provide the following support services for those coming out:

* Access to a transitional facility, lodging or private home as a temporary “safe house” for days, weeks or months as necessary until the next steps in one’s life can be planned out.

* Travel expenses to a safe house when a local one is not available or appropriate.

* Access via video conferencing to professional counseling, if necessary, as well as a network of friends who have run the gauntlet of coming out and can be a listening ear and support.

I think this is an absolutely great idea. Here’s Troy talking about the project:

This is a very ambitious project, one that will require a lot of money and effort. But I think it’s a very important one.

7 comments

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  1. 1
    brucegee1962

    Countless numbers of people suffer this kind of rejection and alienation every day

    …with the word “countless” here meaning “a collection of anecdotes.”

    Before this project goes anywhere, how about some actual data? As in, how many suffer this kind of rejections and alienation every day? What parts of the country do they live in? What are their needs? What help would THEY like to see from the community?

    Otherwise, this just sounds like “crisis awareness and management via rumor.”

  2. 2
    magistramarla

    As the teacher/mentor of a high school GSA group, I saw a lot of young people who were in this situation.
    I saw some who had come out to their families, been kicked out of their homes, and were couch-surfing in friends’ homes just to try to finish the school year.
    I knew one young lady who had to keep her lesbianism hidden from her father because her father had told her that he would kill any kid of his if he found out that they were gay. She was keeping quiet at least until she could get through the two years of junior college that he promised to pay for. Then, she was planning to transfer to a university and stay far away from him.
    Many of my students told me that they wished that I was their parent, and a few boldly asked me if they could move into our home. I always felt that those parents were missing out on knowing their kids as well as I knew them – they were funny and smart kids.
    Now that I’m no longer teaching, I would love to have my home designated a safe house for those kids.

  3. 3
    raven

    I knew one young lady who had to keep her lesbianism hidden from her father because her father had told her that he would kill any kid of his if he found out that they were gay.

    That actually happened to a friend of my in college.

    Her father read her journal and decided she was gay. And tried to strangle her. Her mother pulled him off.

    Needless to say, that was the end of her relationship with her father for forever.

    Ironically, she wasn’t the least bit gay. Her big problem was being too boy crazy.

  4. 4
    raven

    Now that I’m no longer teaching, I would love to have my home designated a safe house for those kids.

    My friend ran an unofficial house for teenagers like this once. They weren’t gay, just kids pushed out of their houses for various reasons.

    One kid was kicked out because his mother’s boyfriend didn’t want him around. Another was left homeless when his dad went to jail for breaking into cars.

    The kids weren’t the problem. Their dysfunctional parents were.

  5. 5
    drl2

    I read something last year about some of the members of one of the atheist groups on Reddit doing something along these lines – trying to set up a network of people who would be willing to provide temporary support for young people estranged from their families over religious issues. The main problem was that in cases where you’re dealing with minors, you can very quickly get dragged into some thorny legal issues.

  6. 6
    raven

    The main problem was that in cases where you’re dealing with minors, you can very quickly get dragged into some thorny legal issues.

    Good point. You can.

    My friend agreed to take the kids only if she was granted legal guardianship. Which she easily obtained.

  7. 7
    jba55

    The areas near fundamentalist LDS compounds could use these, lots of teenaged boys getting kicked out for no fault of their own. Any area that has groups that shun could probably use them at that.

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