One of the accusations more conservative-learning folks make of more progressive-learning folks is that those people claiming to be progressive are actually excluding of conservative people, thus nullifying their proclamations of inclusion. It can easily turn into a white-hot mess, but really it boils down to a finger pointing squabble in the sandbox.
Perhaps there’s something to the accusation.
Perhaps it’s hard to take a movement seriously when inclusion is one of the main staples, but certain groups are not nearly as welcome as others.
However, it’s been my experience is that it isn’t that conservative folks aren’t welcome. It’s that they aren’t safe. There’s a vast ocean of difference. I grew up in these traditions; I took Sunday School; I went to a conservative bible college. I know the lingo, the arguments, the apologetics, and the exegesis. In fact, I was once proud to witness to no less than three LGBTQ+ women while I was living in Calgary (wasn’t I so special?), making sure that they know how much God loved them, BUT…
There are always “buts”, aren’t there?
“… but gay sex is an abomination and God can’t tolerate sin”
“… but sexually immoral people are doomed to hell”
“… but it’s against nature; science has proven it”
To this day I have no idea the damage I caused in the name of believing I knew what was best for these people. As I began to realize a few things about myself, and tried to find safer people to talk to, I discovered how horrible and untruthful these little statements really were when they were used against me.
When the Alberta Government passed Bill 10, ensuring safety for LGBTQ+ students in public schools, it’s like the ideology went from shaming to nuclear:
I’m not sure which is more disturbing to me: that such targeted misinformation is being widely spread in the name of protecting Alberta’s kids; or that adults espousing “family values” are making boys out to be deliberate, voracious predators.
“Please do not believe that if you are against these guidelines, that you are discriminating against the LGBTQ community.”
I’m sorry, how’s this not discriminatory? What kind of evidence anywhere in the pamphlet even remotely shows any kind of truthful information?
“Are you okay with any boy who claims “self identity” as a girl, go to the same bathroom or change room with your daughters or grand-daughters?”
Have we so little faith in our boys and young men that we stoop to using the “boys will be boys” technique to an advantage? Apparently we have.
Never mind that gay boys and men have been and always will be in men’s washrooms and change rooms; and never mind that lesbians have been and always will be in women’s washrooms and change rooms; and never mind that transgender people have already been using the restrooms of their choice without people knowing, and the violent results at the hands of transgender people have been… wait. What violent results?
If anything, violence has already come at the hands of straight people expressing their disapproval in dastardly ways.
I have three growing nephews. I understand that puberty will happen and they’ll go through some pretty intense growing pains and changes; but I also understand that I went through some pretty intense stuff myself, as a female. But that did not make me a predator; nor will natural changes turn my nephews into predators. For a family-value preaching group, I resent the implication that because transgender youth can choose where they are most safe, my nephews will automatically see an opportunity to hurt someone else. I resent that domestic violence and rape survivors are being used to pad unfounded arguments, creating re-victimization.
If you are that concerned that boys and men will started assaulting or sexually harassing others, or making girls and women feel uncomfortable because transgender people might be present, that is your problem that you have raised such brutal, feeble little boys. You have raised your sons to take what they want to take, and to look where they want to look; you have raised your sons to believe it’s okay that they feel sexually superior and can do whatever they need to in order to be masculine.
It has nothing to do with the presence of transgender people. The statement reflects more of a parenting failure that espouses male dominance in the home, and male physical strength over wisdom and reason. The entire pamphlet denounces itself by believing it cares about vulnerable girls and women, when really it comes off as displaying how much it believes boys and men are sexual beasts, nothing more.
How much more off-target could this have been?
And conservative folks wonder why we don’t want them at our support meetings? Our bible studies? Our safer spaces?
Let me be clear: there is a time and a place to be an unsafe person, doing unsafe things.
Rosa Parks was an unsafe person.
Matthew Vines is an unsafe person.
Jesus was an unsafe person.
But defying the status quo in order to include more people in love and mutuality and equality is a far different form of unsafe than declaring LGBTQ+ “abominations”, “damned”, “breakers of God’s heart”, or “mentally ill” (the American College of Pediatricians claims it has objective, scientific proof that orientation is a lie, but if you read their “About Us” page, you’ll see immediately that they are anything but objective or even scientifically-driven).
But steering people to see the depths of their own depravity is part of the Gospel, right?
If you set your sexuality up above all others’, you are not a safe person.
If you believe you are using the bible as a literal instruction manual, and that this is a healthy thing, you are not a safe person.
If you believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are lies, and that everything stems from lust or other sexual choices, you are not a safe person (nor are you terribly informed).
If you feel victimized because a marginalized group is pushing back against the judgment, the abuse, the bashing, the mockery, the condemnation and the lack of desire for reconciliation, you are not a safe person.
If you withhold fellowship, communion, baptism or other beautiful representations of God’s relationship with us from others because your view of sin is greater than God’s love, you are not a safe person. You do not hold that right nor the authority.
Everyone has questions about how things as simple as gender-neutral washrooms will affect everyone, especially youth going through puberty. Naturally there are bound to be concerns and portals of frank, honest discussion. True enough!
But if you’re running off leaflets declaring that our sons and grandsons are now going to pretend to be transgender persons just to get an eyeful, you are not a safe person. Plus, you’ve perpetuated the sad stereotype that boys and men cannot control themselves (or shouldn’t have to control themselves, because hey! Boys will be boys!). If you’re ready to pull your children out of the public school system and homeschool or send them to a religious school, that is entirely your right as a parent, but you are declaring yourself as not a safe person.
You don’t want your kids around LGBTQ+ kids (or potentially so, since no one at any age warrants your demand to declare their identity or orientation before entering any room).
You don’t want your kids exposed to your personal views of sin (your kids could be fabulous friends for LGBTQ+ kids and vice versa, but you treat sin like a disease and try to shield your kids from it, but instead shield them from actual people).
You don’t want your kids getting the notion that your brand of beliefs might… just might… be wrong.
So what are some constructive ways you can ask questions without lowering yourself to using stereotypes to justify bullying arguments? We all want to protect our kids. That’s valid certainly. But this movement is continuing to bully LGBTQ+ youth under the guise that parents’ rights are being unheard.
Like my mistakes of past decades, do you know what kind of damage you are doing in the name of righteousness? In the name of family values?
Do you know how transparent your movement is?
So we’ll continue to be as inclusive as we can be. But when LGBTQ+ people need a place to explore gender identity and sexual orientation (whether sexual choices and behaviour are discussed or not), and God and faith,
you are not welcome. You are not safe.
When LGBTQ+ people need and want to participate in communion at church, and you are ready to do battle,
you are not welcome. You are not safe.
When LGBTQ+ people have been bashed over the head with the bible and spiritually abused, and safer spaces are needed to heal from that,
you are not welcome. You are not safe.
You are loved. You are connected. You are a part of our family. But until bullying behaviours change — behaviours committed in the name of scriptural authority, or the belief that people will hate you for the sake of Christ, or some other untruthful reason,
you are not safe.
If this makes me exclusive at this time, so be it.
If you feel snubbed or victimized because a choice for healing and wholeness has been made, perhaps consider the amount of sheer clout and power you retain as straight, family-valued people. Alberta’s a tough bible-belt to live in. Things might be changing, but you still hold the power.
And as such, right now, in this moment,
you are not safe.
My prayer is that this will change for the better in the coming times.