Your Turn: Members of LGBTQ+ community are God’s children and deserve to thrive

Imagine going through life being told that you are wrong. Not your opinions, not your ideas, not your beliefs — you. Imagine how it would feel, watching your child struggle to find a reason to continue living in a world that insists that they are wrong. There are hundreds of people in Kansas who don’t have to imagine. They know.

Every day, transgender people in Kansas are told that their existence is wrong. From the halls of the state Capitol to the school playground, these messages are never-ending. At Plymouth Church, we recognize that many of these messages come from Christians. We know that our religion bears much of the responsibility for vilifying members of the LGBTQ+ community. We also know that God loves all people, not in spite of who they are, but because of who they are.

Plymouth supports the LGBTQ+ community because they are God’s beloved children and should never be persecuted. For years, they have been under attack from legislation that denies their humanity and seeks to deprive them of the most basic human rights. It is easy to lose track of what legislation is being proposed in state and local legislators, but make no mistake, these bills are dangerous and have very real consequences.

The Trevor Project’s national survey of 13-24 year old members of the LGBTQ+ community found that of the 34,000 respondents, 48% had seriously considered or attempted suicide during the year 2022. Fifty percent of the respondents who considered suicide were under the age of 18. One reason for this is that many of the laws currently being debated in the Kansas Legislature, and other legislative bodies across the country, target children. These laws seek to deprive them of basic medical care, prevent them from fully participating in school life, reject their identities and punish adults who love and support them. Many LGBTQ+ youth feel isolated, both at home and at school. Isolation, exclusion, harassment, abuse — these are the things that LGBTQ+ children must confront every day. Is it any wonder that they are among the populations most at risk of suicide?

In response, and as people of faith, Plymouth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, affirms that members of the transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming community share with all others the worth associated with being unique individuals created by God. Considering the struggles they currently face, we especially welcome and affirm the transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming youth community. This congregation joyfully and unequivocally welcomes the transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming community to share in the life, leadership and blessings of participation in our community of faith. We also commit ourselves to the work of creating not only a world in which transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people are safe but also a world in which they thrive.

— Gretchen Meyer is the chair of the Open and Affirming Committee at Plymouth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Lawrence.


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