Changing Visions of Ourselves > On Shifting Ground: Gender & Sexuality

New York and New Jersey

Adem Carroll

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Islamic Circle of North America

Officially, everyone is against abortion and homosexuality. In reality, some Muslim leaders discuss contraception and abortion with surprising dispassion. There is not one single point of view on either issue. It will be a generation before they are accepted – there’s a lot of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Ultimately it will be accepted, but not in this generation.

These are private issues, uncomfortable for people to talk about in public. A social identity as gay is not always present in Muslim countries. This causes some difficulties in interfaith work. People may have gay family members, but still believe that a Muslim is not complete until they have a family. Privately, people do what they want.

The challenge for education is how can communities maintain their identity while preserving good educational standards? More young women are going to Muslim schools, because their parents are concerned about cultural influences – with the result that young women are getting more education.

The Muslim community comes more naturally to the “family values” discussion. South Asian and Arab Muslim communities tend to have conservative values.

There is some resistance to having Muslim women speak in front of men. There are issues about public and private space, about the role of women. There are also many media distortions and reactions to those distortions. Nonetheless there are real issues – and many activist women who are very concerned about them.