American Christianity has come quite a ways.
Case in point: On May 21st, Florida’s Naples United Church of Christ will host a “Youth Pride Conference.”
The official flyer presents planned activities:
- Breakfast and Lunch
- Breakout Sessions
- Panel Discussion
- Keynote Address by Isaac Salazar with (LGBT Network) Zebra Coalition
- Drag Show
The seminar serves as “an exploration of LGBTQ-related issues facing today’s youth,” and the ad invites “youth ages 12-18.”
Initially, local schools were designated as pickup points.
From original coverage by Florida’s Voice:
[Registrants] are asked to enter their pronouns, the name of their school, and free shuttle transportation will be provided to and from Immokalee and Golden Gate Middle Schools.
But the inclusion caused controversy:
Florida’s Voice reached out to Collier County Schools on why transportation is being permitted directly from school property to a LGBTQ drag show. When informed of the event organizer’s plans to shuttle students from school property, the district said Collier County public schools may not be used as “transit points for the pickup and drop-off of students for this event.“
“The District was never informed nor contacted about this event. CCPS [Collier County Public Schools] is not a sponsor of the event, which is being held at a private facility. CCPS also neither authorized nor approved the transportation of CCPS students to and from district school sites by the event organizers. Any inference to the contrary is fully rejected by CCPS,” they said.
To this end, CCPS has spoken with the event organizer and explained that the information on the registration form, and any associated flyer, must be immediately corrected to reflect that CCPS is not a co-sponsor nor will it allow its school sites to be used as transit points for the pickup and drop-off of students for this event.”
The subsequent sign-up page’s disclaimer:
Please acknowledge that you understand this is an event hosted by [Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)] Collier and is not affiliated with Naples United Church of a Christ or Collier County Public Schools. GLSEN Collier is a nonprofit organization that works to provide a safe and inclusive environment for our marginalized students, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ.
Concerning church involvement broadly, Christian congregations are increasingly supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender culture:
According to its website, Naples United embraces “social responsibility”
Naples UCC is a congregational church, which means that involvement and leadership is expected from all our members to do the work of being the church. As a member of the United Church of Christ denomination, we accept the challenge and mutual accountability of being counted as one of many UCC churches that advocate for personal and social responsibility in living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This latest attack has already had a chilling effect on LGBTQ+ youth, who already experience victimization such as bullying, harassment, and discrimination. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is an exclusionary curriculum ban that deprives LGBTQ+ youth of the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the classroom and their non-LGBTQ+ peers from learning about LGBTQ+ communities. Based on more than 20 years of research conducted by GLSEN, LGBTQ+ youth who attend schools with inclusive curriculum have higher GPAs, a greater sense of belonging, are more likely to pursue post-secondary education, along with many other benefits that promote long-term wellbeing and achievement.
So goes the state of things, concerning education, community, and the progressive path of the Christian church.
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