“Secrecy Is Toxic:” Grassroots Responses to Sexual Violation in American Buddhism

Since the 1980s, American Buddhist communities have been the site of recurring sexual misconduct and abuse allegations. Efforts to bring about justice have been hampered by denial and deflection from teachers, community leaders, and board members. In the absence of community accountability to a central american buddhist governing body, efforts to respond to sexual abuse have fallen largely to individual or collective grassroot efforts. In this presentation, we consider grassroots efforts to respond to sexual abuse in American Buddhism. These efforts include submitting to outside investigations and trainings, community reform through revised grievance procedures and ethics statements, survivor advocacy through in-person and online networks, and legal interventions. We conclude by reflecting on the relationship between such efforts and the sexual ethics found in the classical buddhist tradition.

March 2, 2022