In a new plan to increase the hiring of ethnic minorities and women, the American Friends Service Committee has included a program to create a "supportive atmosphere for gay persons" within its staff and committees.
The plan defines a gay person as "a homosexual or bisexual individual." It adds that "the plan does not address the question of whether it is better to be gay or straight, but is based simply on the AFSC position which holds that people have equal rights."
The Quaker group and the National Gay Task Force believe thae plan is the first of its kind in the country.
Formed in 1906 to "put into practice Quaker beliefs," AFCS plans to seek actively the participations on its staffs of "open gay people." Goals call for a minimum of one such person in each of AFSC's 10 regional offices, and five in the national office in Philadelphia. The goals also call for a minimum of two gay persons on each committee within three years.
There are 16 national committees and "numerous other regional committees," according to Paul E. Brink, the group's information director.
"Though our board made the decision, some Quakers wouldn't agree with us on this," said Brink, explaining that AFSC is but one of many Quaker groups throughout the country.
The organization was made aware of its gay membership in September 1975, when four staff members distributed a letter revealing themselves as homosexual and asking that others be openminded about the fact. The 509-member staff now has 11 acknowledged homosexuals.
In June 1976, the AFSC created a committee to "consider oppression and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in addition to race and sex." From that came the new plan to add minorities.
A spokesman for the National Gay Task Force said the plan is "good" because "it doesn't stipulate numbers . . . as in traditional affirmative actions plans." He said traditional "affirmative action is (not) a good idea for restoring rights to gay people."
". . . The fear that we'll be found out and fired" is the problem with most affirmative action plans, according to an article in Equal Opportunity Forum written by the task force. "There is no way to take a census any group of employees - and find out which ones are gay - without violating anybody's privacy."
The plan will be implemented with the hiring of an affirmative action secretary. The five-year goal for ethnic group hiring - called "third world" by AFSC - is 20 percent of total employes. For women, the five year goal is 40 percent of total employees, AFSC now has 144 "third world" persons and 218 women among its 509 employes.