On October 17, 2013, More Light Presbyterians will join our voices and hearts with other faith partners to wear purple on Spirit Day in a stand against bullying and to show our support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth. Today, 8 out of 10 LGBTQ students experiences harassment while at school. Will you join us by observing Spirit Day on October 17 and help show LGBTQ students the support they so critically need?
Sadly, LGBTQ youth have been made to feel unwelcome in our faith communities and that exclusion or unwelcome contributes to a system of hate that justifies the bullying too many experience. The Very Reverend Gary Hall, Dean of Washington’s National Cathedral, poignantly made this point in his sermon this past Sunday on the 15th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death after a brutal hate crime:
Every day, all across America, countless unnamed boys and girls suffer indignity, humiliation, bullying, and violence, and they feel that they are in it all alone. And I’m sorry to say that much of the blame belongs to our churches, which give religious cover to the last cultural prejudice that we allow to persist in our society: the stigmatization of a person because of sexual orientation or gender identity. And that cultural prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered people persists even in a time when every third television show features a gay protagonist or next-door neighbor. That prejudice persists because Christian churches continue to promote it.
For example, the California State Assembly recently passed the School Success and Opportunity Act allowing transgender students to participate in sex-segregated school programs in a way consistent with their gender identity. Far right religious interests are now throwing their full weight behind an effort to repeal the California ban on discrimination against transgender kids.
On Spirit Day, More Light Presbyterians will join our voices and hearts with Hall and with other faith partners to say to LGBTQ youth: “You’re made in God’s image. We need you to bring the totality of your being—including and maybe especially your sexual and gender identity—to the table.” We stand with you against any violence that attempts to silence the beauty of your creation in God’s image:
God is breaking down categories and barriers between people and creating a new humanity in which all the particularities of how we identify ourselves—racial, ethnic, gender, class—are accepted and blessed as they contribute to the expanding wonder and diversity of a human race created in God’s image. The new humanity that gathers with Jesus at his table come together as we are, secure in the knowledge that it is good and right to be who we are and to celebrate our identity in its myriad fullness. It is not only just OK to be gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender. It is good to be that way, because that is the way God has made you. And the Christian community, the world community, needs you to bring the totality of your being—including and maybe especially your sexual and gender identity—to the table.
Two Ways to Participate in Spirit Day
1. Getting involved in Spirit Day is easy. Wear purple and go purple online on October 17th and help create a world in which LGBTQ youth are celebrated and accepted for who they are. Here are some specifics about getting involved. Tell people why you are wearing purple and share the history and message of Spirit Day. Ask those around you to participate by wearing purple in a stand against bullying.
2. Contact your pastor and session and ask them to support Spirit Day and LGBTQ youth by going purple at church on Sunday, October 13 or 20. GLAAD has a whole page of resources for faith communities going purple in support of LGBTQ youth. Don’t be shy about telling local media outlets about your Spirit Day event or about pitching a story that raises awareness about bullying and issues faced by LGBTQ youth.