Founded in 1974, Integrity USA was the LGBTQ+ advocacy group within the Episcopal Church. Famously dysfunctional, in 2013 the group brought in Vivian Taylor, a transgender activist, to straighten out the mess within the organization.
But when Taylor arrived at Integrity, it quickly became evident that issues at the organization were worse than dysfunctional. Large alcohol bills by board members, missed payrolls, confused roles and responsibilities within the organization, and a failure to file form 990 tax returns spelled disaster for the organization. We also note that some of the conversation included in the emails might be construed as efforts by the board to whitewash the failure to file tax returns.
As for payroll, there is never an excuse for missing payroll. Full stop. This is a legal and ethical requirement. All board members had a fiduciary obligation to make sure this did not happen.
In 2015, Taylor and the other full-time staff member were terminated in a reduction of force, with Taylor alleging sexual harassment.
Finally, in 2022, the organization dissolved.
The Anglican Watch take on Integrity: very typical of the Episcopal Church, including:
- Shoddy governance
- Lack of accountability
- Disrespect for members
- An inappropriate relationship with alcohol
- An organization that often is its own worst enemy
- Disregard for basic norms of ethical organizational conduct
- Childish discussions from board members about inappropriate topics, like telling Taylor how to sit in a ladylike fashion
And while we’re not sure the documents we have received indicate behavior consistent with the legal definition of sexual harassment, the clear lack of an ethical reference point by members of the Integrity board is nothing short of appalling.
Also of note: A priest looking up someone’s dress, then using their misconduct to bully the victim? Gaslighting, anyone?
Nor should organizational funds have been spent on alcohol — regardless of board approval — and failing to file the requisite tax returns is inexcusable and unacceptable.
We also note that several persons involved in Integrity, including former President Susan Russell, remain in leadership roles within the denomination.
That, despite the godforsaken mess they made of Integrity, including not having the basic decency to send organizational financials to members.
As always, we add our standard disclaimer, which is that these are all allegations.
However, we find the emails included in Taylor’s PDF profoundly amateur-hour on the part of board members, petty, and sometimes downright childish. Most significantly, we see no sign that board members even understood their role, versus that of staff. As for the clergy in question, we doubt they would tolerate vestry members who behaved as they did apropos Integrity staff.
Anglican Watch could not reach Susan Russell for comment.
Finally, we stand with Vivian Taylor and all who have been hurt, excluded or traumatized by the church. And if you have to ask the question, you already know the answer. There is zero excuse for the board member conduct identified in these emails, and there are several persons who owe Taylor an apology.