As the Trump Administration continues to invalidate the LGBT community with attempts to define transgender people out of existence, having open and affirming church communities to lean on is important.
Forty-two percent of LGBT youth ages 13-17 said the community they live in is not accepting of LGBT people, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Twenty-nine percent of adults said they have felt unwelcome in a church or religious organization, according to Pew Research Center.
Only two Christian campus ministries offer statements of affirmation for LGBT members—Lutheran Students of Appalachian and Presbyterian Episcopal Campus Ministry. The presidents of the other campus ministries were asked via email if they were open and affirming, but they could not be reached for comment.
LSA and PECM’s statements of inclusion clearly stand with the LGBT community. PECM’s statement reads in part, “As a ministry, we believe in an inclusive and loving community open to anyone—no matter your age, race or ethnicity, ability, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.”
“We gladly receive all individuals regardless of race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status and political affiliation, gender identity and sexual orientation, marital status, religious background, mental or physical ability or illness, substance abuse or addiction, criminal background, documentation status, and age,” LSA’s statement said.
Other Christian groups’ statements on AppSync have trite, unspecific blurbs like “Everyone is welcome,” “All are welcome!” and “Open to any and all students!” Although these statements seem to be all-inclusive, they aren’t helpful in determining what is and isn’t acceptable in that ministry.
If a group cannot be welcoming and open to the LGBT community, then “All are welcome” is meaningless.
“Saying ‘all are welcome’ really isn’t always enough. Churches and campus ministries can do better by adopting statements of inclusion that openly accept and affirm the LGBTQIA+ community rather than using a blanket statement that may or may not be true,” Joseph Cooper, junior music therapy major and president of LSA, said.
All religious groups are not required to be open and affirming. If an open and affirming statement goes against its beliefs, the group should not have one. Instead of saying “all are welcome,” a group should say exactly who it does and does not accept.
Furthermore, the groups that claim to be open and affirming should be able to back it up with action. Over fall break, some members of PECM went on a service trip to Atlanta. On the last day, they participated in Atlanta Pride Parade.
“Atlanta Pride was a reminder that there are faith communities that don’t believe loving someone of the same sex is a sinful act and I’m so grateful for that, and that PECM advocates for and supports the LGBT+ community,” Dorothy Williams, junior middle education major, said.
Christian campus ministries should consider being more open to members that challenge their beliefs on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Written by: Christine Dudley, A&E Reporter