Lessons From Seattle’s Past

Member Discrimination, Social Justice, The Monastery

What lessons can we learn from the group formed during the 80’s called Parents in Arms?

Parents In Arms claimed to be an organization that sought to improve the welfare of runaway teens. Although, one might think their actions were not very concerned with runaway teens, but instead about enforcing their religious, racial, and homophobic fears.

Let’s start with their positions on how to best solve the problem with teen runaways: lock them up. No, really. According to group founder David Crosby in an article in “The Weekly”:

“…the immediate threat of being picked up by police and sent to detention doubtless limited the runaway population to those with a genuine grievance at home.”

So, for example, if a girl is being molested by her father she would be kept in a state of fear where if she were to attempt to leave, the police would arrest her and return her to the abuser. The gay teenager whose parents want them to go to “conversion therapy” or subject them to abuse for not being “normal” can fear being unable to find a safe place when they know they will be placed into police custody should they try to escape and find help.

Parents In Arms has shown their true colors through their assistance in closing the church known as The Monastery, pending a hearing on charges of drug abuse and illicit sex. While these charges alone are up for debate, additional complaints such as “interracial dating” and “Satanic rituals” were lodged from the so called “runaway teen concern group”. Neither of these acts are illegal – so why mention it? Are the issues due to teens using drugs, or is it because the teens weren’t following the Parents In Arms religious values of homophobia and racial sentiments?

Parents In Arms may be upset about the actions of teens, but we can clearly see from their statements and actions that their goal is not to help them, but rather to punish and control them. Specifically, punish them for being gay, and for being more open about interracial relationships than their parents. They aim to punish them for not having the same religious views. Rather than set up safe places for runaway teens to go to such as the “Seattle Youth and Community Services”, which helped approximately 1,200 runaways per year, Parents In Arms wants to lock the teens up, shut down spaces where they take refuge, and punish them for having a partner of a different color or of the same gender. After all this, Parents in Arms has the audacity to wonder why teens who are already having problems at home and need help don’t seem to trust the organization to provide it.