Statement of Support for Transgender & Nonbinary Youth
As people of faith and members of the United Church of Christ, we hold fast to God's command to love our neighbors. Our transgender and nonbinary adults and youth -- these neighbors in Christ -- are continually under attack by legislatures, school boards, and the media across the country (and across the world). It is our responsibility as people of faith to raise our voices in support of safety, justice, and equity for trans and nonbinary people everywhere.
Together with people of diverse backgrounds, faiths, and affiliations, we share the common ground of wanting to ensure our children's safety, emotional and physical wellbeing, and eventual flourishing as confident and successful young adults. We particularly want children to be safe within the walls of their school where they spend so much of their young lives. Growing up isn't easy, and we adults are all here because we're committed to helping our children navigate that rough journey to adulthood. At the very least, we shouldn't be making things any harder for them.
As for gender identity and sexual orientation, the research and science is illuminating.
- A young person navigates questions of gender identity and sexual orientation before or during puberty. Middle school kids are all trying to figure out who they are, who they may be attracted to, and what it all means. Sometimes the discovery is quick and self-evident, but sometimes it’s confusing.
- Supportive parents with strong bonds of trust with their children are crucial sources of understanding and guidance. But not all children are blessed with a supportive, nurturing home environment. Sometimes, for any number of reasons, parents are disparaging, openly hostile, or dangerous in their rejection of their child’s questions and concerns, or even the child themselves.
Transgender and queer children in particular need a tremendous amount of emotional support. From parents, ideally. From teachers, if necessary. Children without that support are far more likely to show poor mental health, self-injure, and develop suicidal ideation.
Your proposal, if adopted, will remove a crucial safety net from students. Informing parents against the student's wishes could bring them great harm. We know this because great harm has happened -- to tragic ends. Suicide is an epidemic among LGBTQIA+ youth. Sometimes school provides the only safe harbor a student has. Jesus said: “I came that you may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10). As the Council of Conference Ministers of the UCC has written, "The lives of trans and nonbinary people are precious. They are God’s beloved children, our siblings, created like all of us for a life free from hatred and recrimination. The church cannot be silent while our trans and nonbinary youth and their parents are subjected to abuse and exposed to public defamation. As leaders in the United Church of Christ, we want every person of transgender or nonbinary experience to know this: you are beloved by God. No earthly power can separate you from God’s love. God created you perfectly: your gender identity or expression is God’s gift to you and the world."
Holmdel Community United Church of Christ