Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

Featured

Tags

, , , , ,

67721079_921196524889871_3178439291265089536_o

Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group exclusively for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group was started in June 2014 and as of August 2019 there are more than 7,000 members. Each day moms of LGBTQ kids gather virtually to share a journey that is unique and often very difficult. The group is a place where they share a lot of information, ask questions, support one another, learn a lot and brag on their kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members nickname themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted there.

There are five subgroups, several special projects and more than 50 regional groups available to the members of the private Facebook group.

Go HERE to put in a request to join the group.

The five subgroups include:

SERENDIPITYDODAH MAMA BEARS TO THE RESCUE is a subgroup for Serendipitydodah Mama Bears who are willing and able to be available to do small acts of kindness for LGBTQ+ people in their local community who may need connection, care or assistance. This subgroup makes it easier for members to coordinate and organize to do things such as attend a wedding as an affirming stand in mom, visit someone in the hospital, help someone get settled in a new area, provide some transportation, include someone in their holiday gatherings, provide temporary housing, send a note of encouragement etc

SERENDIPITYDODAH MTK is a subgroup where the conversation is trans specific. It is mostly made up of moms of trans kids. All the members of Serendipitydodah MTK are in the main Serendipitydodah Facebook group.

SERENDIPITYDODAH BLUE OCEAN FAITH is a subgroup for members of Serendipitydodah for Moms who want to connect with and become a part of the Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor community via it’s online presence. Blue Ocean Faith is a faith community that fully includes, affirms and supports LGBTQ+ people and those that support them.

SERENDIPITYDODAH #BEYOU is a subgroup for LGBTQ+ youth. The group is private – a place where LGBTQ+ youth can make connections with other LGBTQ+ youth, talk about their journeys, and be vulnerable with their stories and questions without fear of judgement.

SERENDIPITYDODAH DOUBLE RAINBOW is a subgroup for moms of LGBTQ+ people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The conversation in this subgroup is specific to LGBTQ+ people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. All members are in the main group.

 

Several Special Projects are available for members:

The Mama Bear Story Project –  Stories have the power to change the world … they inspire us, teach us, connect us. The Mama Bear Story Project provides a stage for the members of “Serendipitydodah for Moms” to share autobiographical essays and personal portraits in an effort to connect with other moms like themselves and to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all lgbtq people to live.  The project was started in January 2017 and as of July 2018 has published more than 30 essays written by a mom of an lgbtq kid. Each essay includes a portrait of the mom and is shared on The Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page and on the Serendipitydodah Public Blog.

The Mama Bear Made With Love Project invites members of Serendipitydodah for Moms to make heart patterned friendship bracelets for members of the lgbtq community to remind them they are loved just the way they are. Anyone can submit lgbtq people to receive a “Made With Love Bracelet” by sending the person’s name and address in an email to lizdyer55@gmail.com (feel free to also add some information about the person). This is more than a bracelet – this is a movement created by moms of lgbtq kids who are committed to making the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all lgbtq people to live. (This project is US only)

The Mama Bear Blanket Project delivers handmade blankets to LGBTQ teens and young adults who find themselves not supported by their family. The hope is that the blankets delivered to them will serve as a reminder that there is someone who loves and cares about them. Moms of LGBTQ kids who are members of the Serendipitydodah for Moms Facebook group are invited to make no-sew fleece blankets and mail them to assigned recipients. You can nominate someone to receive a Mama Bear Blanket by emailing their name and address to lizdyer55@gmail.com  This project was inspired by Mama Bear Anita Cockrum, a member of Serendipitydodah for Moms, who started The Banner Blanket Project. (This project is US only)

Free Mom Hugs – Serendipitydodah for Moms is a proud partner of Free Mom Hugs. Free Mom Hugs is a group of affirming parents who love their LGBTQ+ kids unconditionally and take hugs of love and acceptance to others. They are dedicated to educating families, church and civic leaders, and not only affirming the value of the LGBTQ+ community, but celebrating it. Members of Serendipitydodah for Moms often connect with Free Mom Hugs and get involved with the advocacy work they are doing and the two organizations often work together on special projects and events. Visit the Free Mom Hugs website for more information.

A helpful list of resources for parents of lgbtq kids can be found here.

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com


 

 

 

That’s a really good question #6 – How do I start a GSA?

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is one of the Mama Bears private Facebook groups for moms of LGBTQ kids. This series addresses common questions that often get asked by members of the group. Mama Bears is a whole network of groups, projects, resources and websites dedicated to supporting, educating and empowering moms of LGBTQ kids and the LGBTQ community.

Good Question

GSA clubs are powerful tools that can transform schools and make them safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ youth, youth with LGBTQ parents, and straight allies. Moms of LGBTQ kids often ask how to start a GSA at their LGBTQ kid’s local middle or high school because research has shown that LGBTQ students hear fewer homophobic slurs, experience less harassment, have better attendance, and feel safer at schools that have GSAs.


The first thing to note is that GSAs or Genders & Sexualities Alliances (formally known as Gay Straight Alliances)
, are student-led and student-organized school clubs that aim to create a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Typically only students can start GSAs.


The three typical functions of a GSA is to support students, build community and create change.

GSAs function as a support group and provide safety and confidentiality to students who are LGBTQ as well as those who are experiencing harassment at school because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These groups often provide one of the few safe spaces for students to express themselves.

GSAs are also social groups. They provide a sense of community and a space for LGBTQ and allied youth to build a social network where their identities are respected. Lots of GSAs organize barbecues or movie nights, organize field trips to a local LGBTQ prom or Pride parade, and attend conferences together. GSAs are a great way to build community at your school and lessen the isolation that LGBTQ+ students might otherwise experience.

In addition to providing support and community GSAs often effect change by allowing LGBTQ and straight students to work together to take on issues that affect all students, including harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. 


Starting a Gay/Straight Alliance

Here are the basic steps a student should take to start a GSA at their school. Chances are they’ll be able to start a GSA with no problems – after all, over 4,000 GSAs already exist in every state in the nation. Sometimes, though, administrators, parents, or other students try to stand in the way of GSAs. In case that happens we’re including information on how to handle opposition.

1. Be able to explain why you want to start a GSA. Some of the people you have to talk to along the way may ask you why you want to start a GSA. That’s not a bad question to ask yourself. Under the law, you don’t have to have a reason to start any non-curricular club. But it’s important to be able to explain your reasons for wanting a GSA. Is anti-gay harassment a problem at your school? Do LGBTQ+ students or allies want a safe, supportive space where they can be themselves? Those are both really good reasons to start a GSA.

2. Follow guidelines for setting up a club. Starting a GSA is just like starting any other school club. Get a copy of your student handbook, and look up your school’s requirements for student organizations so that you can be sure to follow the rules carefully. If it’s not in the student handbook, ask an administrator, guidance counselor, or the faculty sponsor of an existing club what steps are required to start a club. You most likely will need to find a faculty member to sponsor the club or write a constitution or mission statement. Be sure to do everything you’re supposed to do according to the school’s rules.

3. Find a sponsor. Most schools require that clubs have a faculty member as a sponsor. However, even if your school doesn’t require one, it’s not a bad idea to have one. Ask a teacher, counselor or librarian who has shown themselves to be supportive of LGBTQ+ students to be the advisor or sponsor for your GSA. A sponsor can help with things like writing a constitution and explaining why you want to start a GSA to others. Keep in mind that if your school isn’t very friendly to the idea of a GSA, some teachers who want to help may be more comfortable doing so in a more behind-the-scenes way.

4. Talk to your school principal or assistant principal and let them know that you plan to start a GSA. A supportive administrator can really help you move things along, and if they are not supportive, then at least you’ll know where you stand, which will help you figure out what to do next. If the principal or assistant principal says a GSA won’t be allowed, ask why so that you can prepare yourself to address their concerns. Be prepared to say that preventing a GSA from forming is against the law under the federal Equal Access Act if other non curricular clubs have been allowed. Be respectful and don’t get into a big fight about it in your initial meeting, but make notes of the reasons given for denial. You can take the time to respond to their arguments at a later date. See “Common Arguments Against GSAs and Why They’re Wrong” listed below if you are told you cannot start a GSA at your school.

5. Write a goal for your GSA. With the help of your sponsor, write a mission statement outlining what your GSA will and will not be. This can make it clear whether the GSA will be a club that will only be a safe space, or whether the club might get involved in activist events. Make sure to include that the GSA is all inclusive and non-discriminatory. Be sure to mention that it is for the purposes of peer education and support. Outline the type of activities you hope to have, as well as the reason a GSA will be an asset to the school and community as a whole.

6. Inform guidance counselors and social workers about the group. These individuals may know students who would be interested in joining.

7. Pick a meeting place. You may want to find a meeting place that offers some level of privacy or confidentiality. A high-profile meeting place may discourage reluctant participants.

8. Advertise. Figure out the best way to advertise at your school. It may be a combination of school bulletin announcements, fliers and word of mouth. If your fliers are defaced or torn down, don’t be discouraged! Keep putting them back up. Posting fliers with words like “end homophobia” or “discuss sexual orientation” can help raise awareness and can make other students feel safer even if they never attend a single meeting.

9. Get food. It really does help to get people to come to your meetings. People are more inclined to come to meetings when you provide food.

10. Hold your meeting. You may want to start out with a discussion about why people think the group is important. You can also brainstorm things your club would like to do.

11. Establish ground rules. Many groups create ground rules to ensure that group discussions are safe, confidential and respectful. Many groups adopt a rule that no assumptions or labels are used about a group member’s sexual orientation. This can help make straight allies feel comfortable about attending the club.

12. Plan for the future and register your club with the GSA network in your state. Develop an action plan. Brainstorm activities. Set goals for what you want to accomplish. Contact GLSEN or the GSA Network (for students in California) to connect with other GSAs in your state and learn about ways to get involved.


Common Arguments Against GSAs and Why They’re Wrong

“We can’t let our students have a club that’s about sex.”

GSAs are NOT about sex. GSAs are about valuing all people regardless of whether they’re gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. Like any other club GSAs offer students with a common interest a chance to connect and give students a respite from the day-to-day grind of school. They’re about creating a supportive space where students can be themselves without fear and making schools safer for all students by promoting respect for everyone. A GSA meeting is no more about sex than the homecoming dance or any other school-sponsored activity. And several federal courts have ruled in favor of GSAs when schools have used this as an excuse to try to stop them from forming.

“We can’t let outsiders come in and start this kind of club in our school.”

Outsiders don’t form GSAs. GSAs are started and led by students. While there are a couple of organizations that have tried to create contact lists or loose coalitions of the over 4,000 GSA clubs across the country, GSAs aren’t chapters of some larger organization. There is no big conspiracy out there trying to get its hands on the youth of America. And according to the federal Equal Access Act, students can start any kind of non-curricular club at their schools that they want.

“It’s just too controversial.”

Sure, a GSA may be controversial, but it’s illegal for schools to use that as excuse to silence them. If other students, parents, or community members are in an uproar over a GSA, the school’s responsibility is to address those people’s concerns, not shut down a group that is peacefully doing its thing just because some people don’t like it. Besides, when a GSA becomes a point of contention in a community, it really only proves the need for the GSA to exist in the first place. And again, several federal courts have ruled in favor of GSAs when schools have used this as an excuse to try to stop them from forming.

“If we let students start a GSA, then we’d have to let students form any other kind of club they want. What if they wanted to start a KKK club?”

If a club’s purpose is to harass or intimidate other students, then the club is disruptive to the educational process and the school can stop it from forming, so this kind of argument doesn’t work. Letting students start a GSA doesn’t mean all sorts of other crazy clubs are going to materialize out of thin air.


Ideas To Find New Members

Advertise your group, meetings, and activities! This can be through posters, word-of mouth and social media. Set up a table during lunch or at a club fair to share information about your group. Write an editorial or letter to the editor in your school newspaper and share it with those who make the daily school announcements too.

Bring-A-Friend Day. Every member brings one friend to a meeting.

Invite a guest speaker. Invite someone from a community group (Time Out Youth, PFLAG, ACLU, etc.), a local activist, or someone who does work in a related area.

Club Share. Build coalitions with other student clubs at your school by attending their meetings and partnering on future projects/activities.

Movies! Screen a movie with an LGBTQ theme.

Provide snacks. Everyone loves free food! It is a great way to get more people to your meetings.

Special Events! Plan special events. Have a Halloween themed event, a spirit day or a thanksgiving potluck. Once your club is going ask your members for ideas for fun themes.


GLSEN, ACLU and Time Out Youth were resources used for this post.

GLOSSARY OF LGBTQ TERMS

Tags

, , ,

69549228_10156530890765418_2170960488995749888_n

Agender (adj.) – Describes a person who identifies as having no gender.

Advocate (noun) – A person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a marginalized group. 2 (verb) – To actively support or plea in favor of a particular cause, the action of working to end intolerance or educate others.

Ally (noun) – A person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people.

Aromantic (adj.) – An orientation that describes a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in forming romantic relationships.

Asexual (adj.) – Describes a person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others.  Asexuality is not the same as celibacy.

Assigned sex at birth (noun) – The sex (male or female) assigned to a child at birth, most often based on the child’s external anatomy. Also referred to as birth sex, natal sex, biological sex, or sex.

Bigender (adj.) – Describes a person whose gender identity is a combination of two genders. Binding (verb) – The process of tightly wrapping one’s chest in order to minimize the appearance of having breasts. This is achieved through use of constrictive materials such as cloth strips, elastic or non-elastic bandages, or specially designed undergarments.

Binder / inding (noun) – An undergarment used to alter or reduce the appearance of one’s breasts (worn similarly to how one wears a sports bra). binding (verb) – The (sometimes daily) process of wearing a binder. Binding is often used to change the way other’s read/perceive one’s anatomical sex characteristics, and/or as a form of gender expression.

Biological Sex (noun) – A medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.”

Biphobia (noun) – The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of bisexual people or those who are perceived as such.

Bisexual (adj.) – A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender and people of other genders.

Bottom surgery (noun) – Colloquial way of describing gender affirming genital surgery.

Cisgender (adj.) – A person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth correspond (i.e., a person who is not transgender).

Closeted (adj.) – An individual who is not open to themselves or others about their (queer) sexuality or gender identity. This may be by choice and/or for other reasons such as fear for one’s safety, peer or family rejection, or disapproval and/or loss of housing, job, etc. Also known as being “in the closet.” When someone chooses to break this silence they “come out” of the closet. (see coming out)

Coming out (verb) – The process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexual orientation or gender identity (to come out to oneself). Also the process by which one shares one’s sexual orientation or gender identity with others (to come out to friends, etc.).

Cross-sex hormone therapy (noun) – The administration of hormones for those who wish to match their physical secondary sex characteristics to their gender identity.

Demiromantic (adj.) – Little or no capacity to experience romantic attraction until a strong sexual  onnection is formed with someone, often within a sexual relationship.

Demisexual (adj.) – Little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic connection is formed with someone, often within a romantic relationship.

Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) (noun) – Group of rare conditions where the reproductive organs and genitals do not develop as expected. Some DSDs include Klinefelter Syndrome and Androgen Sensitivity Syndrome. Sometimes called differences of sex development. Some people prefer to use the term intersex.

Drag (verb) – The performance of one or multiple genders theatrically. Those who perform are called Drag Kings and Drag Queens.

Drag King (noun) – Someone who performs (hyper-) masculinity theatrically.

Drag Queen (noun) – Someone who performs (hyper-) femininity theatrically.

Femme (noun & adj.) – someone who identifies themselves as feminine, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally. Often used to refer to a feminine-presenting queer woman or people.

Fluid(ity) (adj.) –  Generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes an identity that may change or shift over time between or within the mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, bi and straight).

FTM or F2M (female to male) (adj.) – A transgender person who is transitioning or has transitioned from female to male.

Gay (adj.) – A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender. It can be used regardless of gender identity, but is more commonly used to describe men.

Gender affirming surgery (GAS) (noun) – Surgeries used to modify one’s body to be more congruent with one’s gender identity. Also referred to as sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or gender confirming surgery (GCS).

Gender binary (noun) – The idea that there are only two genders, male and female, and that a person must strictly fit into one category or the other.

Gender dysphoria (noun) – Distress experienced by some individuals whose gender identity does not correspond with their assigned sex at birth. Manifests itself as clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes gender dysphoria as a diagnosis.

Gender expression (noun) – The way a person acts, dresses, speaks, and behaves (i.e., feminine, masculine, androgynous). Gender expression does not necessarily correspond to assigned sex at birth or gender identity.

Gender fluid (adj.) – Describes a person whose gender identity is not fixed. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more one gender some days, and another gender other days.

Gender identity (noun) – A person’s internal sense of being a man/male, woman/female, both, neither, or another gender.

Gender non-conforming (adj.) – Describes a gender expression that differs from a given society’s norms for males and females.

Gender role (noun) – A set of societal norms dictating what types of behaviors are generally considered acceptable, appropriate or desirable for a person based on their actual or perceived sex.

Genderqueer (adj.) – Describes a person whose gender identity falls outside the traditional gender binary. Other terms for people whose gender identity falls outside the traditional gender binary include gender variant, gender expansive, etc. Sometimes written as two words (gender queer).

Heteronormativity (noun) – The assumption that everyone is heterosexual, and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities.

Heterosexual (straight) (adj.) – A sexual orientation that describes women who are emotionally and sexually attracted to men, and men who are emotionally and sexually attracted to women. Homophobia (noun) – The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of lesbian or gay people or those who are perceived as such.

Hir (pronoun) – A gender-neutral pronoun, used in place of him/her. Pronounced “here.” See also “ze.”

Hormone therapy (noun)  – Synthetic hormones are taken to affect things like body shape, hair growth patterns, and secondary sex characteristics.

Intersectionality (noun) – The idea that identities are influenced and shaped by race, class, ethnicity, sexuality/sexual orientation, gender/gender identity, physical disability, national origin, etc., as well as by the interconnection of all of those characteristics.

Intersex (noun) – Group of rare conditions where the reproductive organs and genitals do not develop as expected. Some prefer to use the term disorders (or differences) of sex development. Intersex is also used as an identity term by some community members and advocacy groups.

Lesbian (adj., noun) – A sexual orientation that describes a woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women.

LGBTQ; GSM; DSG; TGNC (abbreviations or acronyms) – Shorthand or umbrella terms for all folks who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality, there are many different initialisms people prefer. LGBTQ is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer and/or Questioning (sometimes people at a + at the end in an effort to be more inclusive) and there are longer versions of LGBTQ that can be found but are not often used due to the length; GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities; DSG is Diverse Sexualities and Genders; TGNC is Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming (sometimes you’ll see “NB” added for non-binary). Other options include the initialism GLBT or LGBT and the acronym QUILTBAG (Queer [or Questioning] Undecided Intersex Lesbian Trans* Bisexual Asexual [or Allied] and Gay [or Genderqueer])

Men who have sex with men/Women who have sex with women (MSM/WSW) (noun) – Categories that are often used in research and public health settings to collectively describe those who engage in same-sex sexual behavior, regardless of their sexual orientation. However, people rarely use the terms MSM or WSW to describe themselves.

Minority stress (noun) – Chronic stress faced by members of stigmatized minority groups. Minority stress is caused by external, objective events and conditions, expectations of such events, the internalization of societal attitudes, and/or concealment of one’s sexual orientation.

MTF or M2F or male to female (adj.): A transgender person who is transitioning or has transitioned from male to female.

Non binary (adj.) – Describes a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Non-binary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do.

Outing (verb) – Involuntary or unwanted disclosure of another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Pangender (adj.) – Describes a person whose gender identity is comprised of many genders.

Pansexual (adj.) – A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people regardless of gender.

Polyamorous (adj.) – Describes a person who has or is open to having more than one romantic or sexual relationship at a time, with the knowledge and consent of all their partners. Sometimes abbreviated as poly.

QPOC (noun) – An acronym that stands for Queer Person of Color or Queer People of Color.

Queer (adj.) – An umbrella term used by some to describe people who think of their sexual orientation or gender identity as outside of societal norms. Some people view the term queer as more fluid and inclusive than traditional categories for sexual orientation and gender identity. Due to its history as a derogatory term, the term queer is not embraced or used by all members of the LGBT community.

Questioning (adj.) – Describes an individual who is unsure about or is exploring their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sex (noun)  – This refers to how someone is classified—either male or female. Babies are assigned a male or female sex at birth, typically due to their external anatomy (whether they have a penis or a vagina). This assignment is then written on their birth certificate. Regardless of this traditional classification, a person’s sex is actually a mix of bodily characteristics like chromosomes, hormones, internal and external reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics.

Sex Assigned at Birth (SAAB)  – A phrase used to intentionally recognize a person’s assigned sex (not gender identity). Sometimes called “designated sex at birth” (DSAB) or “sex coercively assigned at birth” (SCAB), or specifically used as “assigned male at birth” (AMAB) or “assigned female at birth” (AFAB): Jenny was assigned male at birth, but identifies as a woman. 

Sexual orientation (noun) – How a person characterizes their emotional and sexual attraction to others.

Top surgery (noun) – Colloquial way of describing gender affirming surgery on the chest.

Trans man/transgender man/female-to-male (FTM) (noun) – A transgender person whose gender identity is male may use these terms to describe themselves.

Trans woman/transgender woman/male-to-female (MTF) (noun) – A transgender person whose gender identity is female may use these terms to describe themselves.

Transfeminine (adj.) – Describes people who were assigned male at birth, but identify with femininity to a greater extent than with masculinity.

Transgender (adj.) – Describes a person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth do not correspond. Also used as an umbrella term to include gender identities outside of male and female. Sometimes abbreviated as trans.

Transition (noun) – For transgender people, this refers to the process of coming to recognize, accept, and express one’s gender identity. Most often, this refers to the period when a person makes social, legal, and/or medical changes, such as changing their clothing, name, sex designation, and using medical interventions. Sometimes referred to as gender affirmation process.

Transmasculine (adj.) – Describes people who were assigned female at birth, but identify with masculinity to a greater extent than with femininity.

Transphobia (noun) – The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of transgender or gender non-conforming people or those who are perceived as such.

Transsexual (adj.) – Sometimes used in medical literature or by some transgender people to describe those who have transitioned through medical interventions.

Tucking (verb) – The process of hiding one’s penis and testes with tape, tight shorts, or specially designed undergarments.

Two-Spirit (adj.) – A contemporary term that connects today’s experiences of LGBT Native American and American Indian people with the traditions from their cultures.

ze / zir/ “zee”, “zerr” or “zeer”/ (pronoun) – alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some trans* people. They replace “he” and “she” and “his” and “hers” respectively. Alternatively some people who are not comfortable/do not embrace he/she use the plural pronoun “they/their” as a gender neutral singular pronoun.

Here is a link to a pdf with all the terms that can be downloaded and printed:
GLOSSARY OF LGBTQ TERMS

Mama Bear Holiday Hugs 2019

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

72804850_709223109556719_373976151221075968_n

 

Registration for the second annual MAMA BEAR HOLIDAY HUGS is open and will remain open until 12/15/2019.

MAMA BEAR HOLIDAY HUGS is hosted by MAMA BEARS, an organization dedicated to supporting, educating and empowering moms of LGBTQ kids and the LGBTQ community.

The Holiday Season can be an especially lonely and stressful time for many LGBTQ people who have lost support due to their LGBTQ status. Members of MAMA BEARS are available to send Holiday messages of love, hope and affirmation to LGBTQ people during the Holiday Season.

LGBTQ people, or those who love and support them, can fill out a form to put in a request for a MAMA BEAR HOLIDAY HUGS message of love, hope and affirmation.

Information submitted will be shared with members of Mama Bears private Facebook group.

This project is limited to the United States.

If you have questions you can email mamabearholidayhugs@gmail.com

*****************************************

Click HERE for the request form

Here is a QR Code for the request form: qr-code

PRAYERS FOR THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY, THEIR FAMILIES AND ALLIES

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

candles-2653200_960_720

“Prayer is an art which only the Holy Spirit can teach us…Pray for prayer – pray till you can pray, pray to be helped to pray and give not up praying because you cannot pray, for it is when you think you cannot pray that you are most praying.”  – C.H. Spurgeon 

My son came out in 2006 and, as a result, I went through a process of deconstructing my faith – re-examining what I believed and why.

One of the things that came up a lot in that process of deconstruction was “prayer”  – it caused me to have a lot of questions about prayer … did it really work? how did it work? how should I pray? could I still “believe” in prayer?

It was a difficult time for me and I went though a period where it was almost impossible for me to pray because I was no longer sure what I believed about prayer.

But, eventually I got to a place where I found peace about prayer. I didn’t necessarily find answers to my questions, but I came to the conclusion that giving up prayer was not an option for me. I came to the conclusion that I was wanted to embrace the mystery of prayer and believe in prayer because I choose to be a serious and faithful follower of Jesus and Jesus prayed and encouraged us to pray the same way he prayed.

I admit that some days my prayers are accompanied with only a mustard seed of faith but I pray anyway; and sometimes I find it very hard to pray or don’t know how to pray, but I pray anyway, even if it is just to pray about my inability to pray.

In 2009, with the help of some other Christians who were on a journey similar to my own, I started putting together a list of prayers on behalf of LGBTQ people, their families and their allies. Some of the prayers were things I simply needed to pray for myself as a Christian mother of a gay son and as an LGBTQ ally. Some of the prayers were born out of conversations I had with people, news reports I read, stories told to me and things that were being revealed to me. Over the years I have changed some of the prayers and added others.

Here is my present list:

·         Prayer for the LGBTQ community, their Families and LGBTQ Allies in general; that God will protect them and bless them, that the Holy Spirit will inspire them, inform them and guide them. 

·         Prayer for LGBTQ Christians and Christians who love and support them will be able to reconcile their faith with being affirming. 

·         Prayer that LGBTQ people would be able to live wholeheartedly into the people they were created to be. 

·         Prayer that LGBTQ people will be able to make connections with affirming Christians and find affirming faith communities. 

·         Prayer for all Christian leaders, faith communities and denominations who are working through LGBTQ issues. Prayer that God will give them insight, wisdom, clear understanding and guide them towards truth,  justice, love and light.

·         Prayer that LGBTQ people, their families and allies who have been hurt by the church or by individual Christians will still be able to receive God’s love and affirmation – that they will be able to know that those people and those churches are not God and do not represent how God sees them. 

·         Prayer that LGBTQ people and those who support them will not harbor bitterness or resentment; that they will find healing and wholeness, and as a result, be able to forgive those who trespass against them. 

·         Prayer for people in long-term same-sex relationships to find lasting stability despite the lack of role models for LGBTQ couples. Prayer for God to lift up role models for same sex couples to help them form healthy and lasting relationships. Prayer of gratitude for the progress being made for same sex marriage across the world. 

·         Prayer for everyone living with HIV/AIDS. Prayer that God will comfort them and give them access to the healthcare they need. Prayer of gratitude thanking God for the medical progress made for the treatment of HIV/AIDS and prayer for continued progress. 

·         Prayer for LGBTQ youth who are experiencing bullying to know that God loves them no matter what and that they can always turn to him. Prayer for teachers, school administrators, community leaders, parents, neighbors, church leaders, youth leaders etc to see any bullying that occurs, to stand up against it, put programs in place to help create safe environments for LGBTQ youth and make it known that they are a safe person for LGBTQ youth to turn to.

 ·         Prayer that God will work in families torn apart by homophobia and that the spirit of God would lead those families to understanding, grace, forgiveness and reconciliation.

 ·         Prayer for LGBTQ people, young and old, who have been misunderstood, silenced, rejected and/or marginalized by friends and family members directly and indirectly. Prayer that they would find the support and encouragement they need to help them withstand the pain of being misunderstood, silenced, rejected and/or marginalized by their family and friends. 

 ·         Prayer that religious leaders will recognize the problem of homophobia in the church, courageously confront it and work to rid the church of homophobia. 

·         Prayer for all ex-gay ministries and conversion therapy in all forms to end. 

·         Prayer that all countries with anti LGBTQ laws to be moved by the Holy Spirit towards love and justice.

 ·         Prayer against all homophobic and transphobic violence. Prayers for all who are victims of homophobic and transphobic violence.

·         Prayer for courage, wholeness, integrity, understanding, peace, humility, love, freedom, vision, transformation.  

What prayer would you add?

That’s A Really Good Question #5 – Can I just use someone’s name instead of trying to use “they/them” pronouns?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. This series will address common questions that often get asked by members of the group. For more information about the group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

30516718_10155444319465418_1704654974840995840_n

Someone recently mentioned to me that they were very uncomfortable using “they/them” pronouns for someone because there were sentences where it sounded weird to them. They asked if I thought it would be offensive to use the person’s name instead of using “they/them” in place of “he/him” or “she/her

My response was that it is always okay to substitute someone’s name for pronouns. However, I warned them, if they consistently try to avoid using someone’s personal pronouns it is more likely they would end up making more mistakes. It is extremely difficult and awkward to avoid using pronouns and, therefore, fairly obvious when someone is trying to avoid doing so. That obvious avoidance can in itself be offensive to someone who has shared their personal pronouns.

For example:

Instead of saying:

“They are coming by for dinner. They asked to bring the salad. This is so them.”

You would have to say:

“Billy is coming by for dinner and asked if Billy could bring the salad. This is so Billy.”

More than likely you would probably end up saying:

“Billy is coming by for dinner and asked if he could bring the salad. This is so Billy.”

And that would mean that you used the wrong pronoun which would be offensive.

Therefore, my advice is: if one really wants to honor and respect a person they should use their correct personal pronouns.

If you make a mistake you can simply apologize and correct yourself. (i.e. “oops, I meant to say them”) and go on.

Here’s some more thoughts about personal pronouns:

In English, whether we realize it or not, people frequently refer to others by using pronouns.

Often, people make assumptions about the gender of another person based on the person’s appearance or name, but those assumptions are not always correct.

If someone shares their pronouns with you, it’s meant to disrupt the idea of making assumptions, and to provide you with the information you need in order to refer to them appropriately.

Using someone’s correct personal pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using a person’s name can be a way to respect them.

Just as it can be offensive to call someone by the wrong name, it can be offensive to use the wrong pronouns for someone.

Actively refusing to use the pronouns someone has stated that they go by could imply the oppressive and offensive notion that intersex, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people do not or should not exist.

It is worth noting that a person who goes by “they” could actually be a man, a woman, both, neither, or something else entirely. However, people’s genders tend to be a private issue, therefore, the sharing of pronouns should not be taken as an invitation to ask for potentially private information about someone’s gender.

What about grammar?

There is nothing grammatically wrong with using “they” as a singular pronoun. In English, we already use singular “they” all the time when the gender of a person is unknown. Say you see some money on the ground and pick it up. You might say: “Oh, someone dropped their money here. I’ll set it aside for them, I bet they are looking everywhere!”

Using “he or she” and “his or hers” in this situation is awkward, so we use singular “they” instead.

When someone uses “they/them” pronouns, all you have to do is apply that same sentence construction:

“Oh, Desmond dropped their money here. I’ll set it aside for them, I bet they are looking everywhere!”

Major dictionaries have recognized singular “they” as grammatically correct for years. The word “they” has been used as a singular pronoun since at least the 16th century, and some argue it goes back even earlier. The AP Style Guide also allows the usage of singular “they” in cases where a subject doesn’t identify as male or female.

There are certainly ways to avoid using singular “they” and some people are still insistent on doing so. However, in the end it takes a lot more linguistic gymnastics to not use pronouns and that makes it much more likely that offensive mistakes will be made more often.

So, next time you are faced with using “they” in the singular, you don’t have to worry about proper grammar, because singular “they” is grammatically correct.

Last but certainly not least … Why is it important to get pronouns right?

Using the pronouns that someone has shared with you affirms the identity of the person. It can be a difficult step for someone to find it in themselves to acknowledge their identity.  More than likely they’ve had to find the courage to share the fact that they don’t fit into the binary world and that can be very difficult because as a whole the world is not supportive of intersex, transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.

When you get an intersex, transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming person’s  pronouns right you bring much needed relief to their emotional and psychological well being. The simple act of using the correct pronouns may give them the courage to keep moving forward and living their life as their most authentic self.

Recent studies have even shown that correct pronoun usage can dramatically decrease the depression and suicidal tendencies that are so prevalent among LGBTQ youth.

Therefore, as I said earlier, if you really want to honor and respect a person use their correct personal pronouns. It is the kind, loving, respectful thing to do.


Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. Our official motto is “Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and as of July 2019 has more than 6,500 members. For more info about the private facebook group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

That’s A Really Good Question #4 – LGBTQ Youth and Sleepovers

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. This series will address common questions that often get asked by members of the group. For more information about the group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

30516718_10155444319465418_1704654974840995840_n

Parents of LGBTQ kids are often faced with decisions they never considered before their kid came out. One common question is “what should I do about sleep overs?”

One concern that parents typically have when asking for advice about sleep overs for their LGBTQ kids include the safety and well being of their kids. Making sure that their LGBTQ kids feel safe and are free from any shaming is of the utmost importance to the parents I hear from.

Another concern parents of LGBTQ kids share with me is about their children exploring their sexuality before they are ready and about their safety if they do. For some, having their teens spend long stretches of unsupervised time in pajamas in a bedroom with someone they may find sexually attractive can be unsettling.

My advice to parents of LGBTQ kids is try your best to find a way to make sleepovers work.

LGBTQ kids already often feel like they are different and existing in the margins of life Eliminating sleepovers because kids are LGBTQ only enhances the feeling of not fitting in.

In addition to helping LGBTQ youth feel like they belong, sleepovers are also a great way to get young people to unplug and spend more time interacting with their peers in person, and is often a trusting and bonding experience.

Although there is no one way to structure sleepovers, parents who have concerns can try to plan ahead.

Some things to consider:

Talk openly with your child about your concerns and agree on guidelines and rules.

Consistently strive to create an open, trusting, shame-free relationship with your  children so they can freely share concerns and ask questions as they grow and mature.

Don’t assume that your child is attracted to someone just because they are the same sex. Talk about how a sleepover is not the place to ever act on a crush.

Talk about some unique situations that might come up and cause discomfort during a sleep over. Discuss what can be done to avoid any such uncomfortable situations. These might include such things as sharing their trans identity, changing clothes and not wearing a binder while sleeping.

Let your kids know that sleep overs are privileges, you want them to be able to enjoy them but will restrict them from having sleepovers if they don’t adhere to rules.

Have sleepovers at your house and in open areas.

Keep rules simple and direct so they are easy to remember. For example:
No Sex, No Drugs, No Alcohol, No Closed Doors

Rules should be consistent for everyone attending a sleepover. When the sleepover is at your home talk to all the guests about your rules and repeat them each time you have a sleepover.

Having rules doesn’t mean they won’t be broken, but, they do lower the chances of unwanted behavior, especially if parents pop in often to check up on how things are going. Offering a snack or cold drink when you pop in can help ease your kid’s annoyance about this.

Sleep overs are a big part of many young people’s social life – our LGBTQ kids want to enjoy that same social interaction. 

 


Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and as of January 2019 has more than 5,500 members. For more info about the private facebook group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

That’s A Really Good Question #3 – LGBTQ and Mental Health

Tags

, , , , , ,

Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. This series will address common questions that often get asked by members of the group. For more information about the group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

30516718_10155444319465418_1704654974840995840_n

 

I’m often asked why it seems that LGBTQ people have more mental health issues than heterosexual and cisgender people.

Some have even asked “what comes first? the chicken or the egg”

That’s a really good question because being LGBTQ is not a mental health disorder and it is very important to emphasize that being LGBTQ is not the cause of any mental health illness.

Homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders in 1974 and being transgender was removed from the list in 2018.

There is one small group that takes a different view but it is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is fueled by conservative anti LGBTQ views. The group is called the “American College of Pediatricians” (ACPeds). It is a fringe anti-LGBTQ hate group that masquerades as the premier U.S. association of pediatricians to push anti-LGBTQ junk science, primarily via far-right conservative media and filing amicus briefs in cases related to gay adoption and marriage equality.​ Though it sounds official, the ACPeds is not the leading organization for U.S. pediatricians; that designation goes to the 66,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It appears they chose their name to try and confuse the public.

However, even though mental health issues are not caused by being LGBTQ, there absolutely are issues to consider around being LGBTQ and mental health.

While being LGBTQ is not a mental illness in any way, studies do show that LGBTQ individuals show greater levels of anxiety, depression, substance use disorders and suicidal feelings. However, the reason is not because they are LGBTQ but due to the discrimination and stigma that they face.

In other words, the increase in mental health issues for LGBTQ people are not caused because of their LGBTQ identify, but rather by how the world reacts to their identity.

LGBTQ youth are especially at risk, as young people are especially sensitive and vulnerable when it comes to “fitting in” and “belonging” and don’t have the psychological resources or personal independence to handle things themselves that they will have when they are older.

Even when LGBTQ youth have supportive families they are still impacted by the stigma and discrimination they hear about and face in their community, their schools and in society in general.

Some things that can help LGBTQ youth include:

* having supportive parents

* when parents are not supportive having at least one supportive adult to talk to and confide in

* having supportive educators at their school

* Gay Straight Alliance organizations at their school

* comprehensive bullying and harassment policies and laws in place in their community

Some things that can help LGBTQ adults include:

* having more affordable health care

* easier access to health care

* health care professionals that are LGBTQ friendly and knowledgeable

* companies that have LGBTQ inclusive policies

* sensitivity training for employees and management

* having at least one supportive person in their lives to talk to and confide in

Please share your own thoughts and/or resources regarding this subject.

 


Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and as of January 2019 has more than 5,500 members. For more info about the private facebook group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #48 – Bee Brody

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears

Bee Brody

 

I stand at the bathroom counter brushing my teeth. Three of my four children are in bed and the oldest, a 15-year-old girl, is on her way home. Our house is locked, the windows drawn. I feel at peace, knowing that this day, I have successfully checked off all the religious to-dos; prayers have been said, scriptures read. My temple recommend is valid, my faith strong. While we are not perfect as a family, I feel God is cognizant of our efforts and pleased with our work.

I hear the front door unlock, footsteps on the stairs, and the bathroom door opens. My eldest daughter, the one we prayed to have, the one we were blessed with after a miscarriage and years of trying, stands, not looking at me, defiant and, I see now, scared.

“I’m bisexual and I don’t want to talk about it.”

My toothbrush stops moving. My child runs to her room. I hear the door close. I don’t drop to my knees. I don’t burst into tears or rail against God or wonder what I did wrong in my parenting to make her this way (all of that will come later, over agonizing years).

I don’t blame her for not wanting to talk about it. She’s been to every standards night, every chastity talk. She sat in class while teachers praised marriage between a man and a woman and she knows that I’m a full-self Mormon—I work with an eye single to God’s glory.

I rinse my mouth, wipe out the sink and search for my husband. We talk. Did we see this coming? Were there signs? Is this a phase, like the year she spent playing Pompeii with the neighbor kids? And, most telling about my lack of education: will she outgrow it? Does she just need to find a nice LDS boy who will appreciate her precocious and feisty nature?

Fast forward four years, and a Policy announcement, and thousands of tears later, and I can say with certainty that no, she will not outgrow it. It is not a phase, and all the nice LDS boys in the world will not make her less attracted to girls. Her understanding of her own sexual identity continues to change and we’re both beginning to suspect that being with a boy, for her, is the shadow of love, not the brightest expression of it. If she seeks to find oneness with her spouse, that fulfillment may not be possible in a heterosexual relationship.

She will also never graduate from Seminary because the test questions asked her to explain why homosexuality is a sin and so she quit going in order to protect her emotional health. She’ll never go on a mission because how can she preach about a God of love when she feels no love in His church? She will not attend meetings, where she has felt less-than, been told that her sexuality is disgusting, that God ranks sins and He puts hers at the top, right next to murder.

My beautiful daughter, who doesn’t kill spiders because everything deserves a life, is told that if she wants Life Eternal, she has to voluntarily endure this life without the companionship that she’s been taught are most central to our existence—that of spouse and children.

She believes in something, but she no longer believes in the god of the LDS faith. The lessons about the Proclamation outshouted those about love and sent her scurrying to find safety outside of orthodoxy. She’s been convinced by well-meaning but wrong leaders that if she can’t get in line with this one item in the Handbook, she isn’t welcome to participate in any of the others. A spouse and children are beyond her reach if she wants to take the Sacrament on Sunday.

So, she has to choose: a personal God who loves her fully, or the hollow appearance of godliness? A family in this life, or a life without this church? She did not ask for this dichotomy. It was forced on her, and at 15, when she innocently believed Priesthood leaders would have her back if she would just be honest with them, she was told she had to choose.

I am currently living tenuously within a religious structure that says we are all gods in embryo but rejects the nature God gave my child. And I feel that separation deeply. I feel violently hewn from the god of my youth because I no longer believe the Sunday School answers: pray, read your scriptures, go to church. We say that God loves you because you are His child but the message sent by the organization is different. The institution of our religion says that He loves you sometimes. He will make you perfect unless.

But I reject the qualifiers. God loves you. God loves you. God loves you. Full stop.

When people stand in Sacrament meeting and talk about how God has blessed them with children who were married in the temple, I repeat to myself that God’s blessings for my child are different but equally powerful. When a child is praised for going on a mission, I remind myself that my daughter is on a mission, no less divine, because she lives every day as an ambassador for love first and leaves the rest to Him.

I have learned to say to every child, and especially my own, “Yes, your nature is Divine, exactly as it is, because God made you and He is perfect. You are beautiful and you are beloved and you are enough because God looked at all that He made and said ‘it is good.’ You, my precious child, are exactly as He meant you to be and He will make this pain and this anger and this heartache right some day. And we will all, together, sit at His feet in joy.”



Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 5,800 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #47 – Katie Barnes Burwell

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears

Katie Burwell4
June is an exciting month for Serendipitydodah Mama Bears as they dress up and get together to go out to Pride events to offer hugs and high fives, and share words of encouragement, support and affirmation.

This is nothing new …  instead, it is a tradition that is being carried on.

Moms of LGBTQ kids have always showed up in support of Pride Protests and Parades.

Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG, was among the first moms of LGBTQ Kids to March and show her support. In 1972 she marched alongside her son, Morty, in what would eventually become New York City’s gay pride march, and she continued to show up and march in many Pride Parades throughout her life. She even served as a Grand Marshal in 1991 and 1993.

Serendipitydodah Mama Bears are proud to continue the tradition that Mama Bear Jeanne Manford started. They love Pride and what it represents. They are honored and proud to show up, march and hand out hugs and high fives. They consider Pride to be an important element in helping to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all lgbtq people to live.

Katie Barnes Burwell is one Serendipitydodah Mama Bear who went out to a Pride event this month …

I CAN’T SEE MY FEET!!! by Katie Barnes Burwell

I made this skirt as poooooofy as I could manage.

I was going for silly and approachable this year and IT WORKED!!

I got to give and get tons of hugs!!

This picture was me before heading out to Sacramento Pride for the Parade.

It was a good day!

Good and heartbreaking at the same time.

So many whispers in my ear mid hug, “thank you…my mom won’t hug me.”

I have a personal rule about hugging kids.

I don’t let go first.

I let them hang on as long as they need … my kids, my bonus kids, the kids at the festival, and a couple adults too.

It can be awkward, but, when my huggees realize I won’t let go till they do, it breaks the dam and the tears come.

It’s good work we Mama Bears do.

We are needed.

Happy Pride!


Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 5,000 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #46 – Jennifer O’Rourke

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears

Jennifer O'Rourke

In 2017, I watched my daughter, Kat, sit on stage ready to be baptized. A woman who was standing next to her said in front of the whole audience, “One of my favorite things about you is the energy and the light that you have in you for the kids. You’re there every Sunday, worshipping and leading a small group. It is my honor to baptize you today.”

I was so proud of my daughter that day. She was 15 and passionately devoted to God and her church. I was glad to be in a church where the senior pastor, Andy Stanley, once preached that the “church should be the safest place on the planet for gay teens.” I couldn’t have expected then what would happen a year later.

Last June, my daughter showed up to church to lead worship in the elementary environment. The same woman, Christy, who had baptized her told her that morning that because she had come out as gay on Instagram, she could no longer serve in leadership, meaning she could no longer be a worship leader or lead her second-grade small group. She was, however, allowed to volunteer in other ways, such as handing out flyers and working in the parking team — just no leadership roles. Our daughter was crushed. Kat had felt called to work with children (she’s currently working towards a degree in pediatric oncology) and to sing, and she felt that the church had just taken her purpose away.

What followed was the worst three months of our lives as parents. She went from a happy-go-lucky girl to someone who had suicidal thoughts and needed to be watched over 24/7. She’s much better now, but it was devastating then for her to lose her sense of purpose and all of her friends. My husband, who volunteered as a technical director there, and I, who worked with 3 to 4-year-old kids in the church, lost our friend-groups as well.

The loss was doubly painful because we moved to Georgia because we had felt called to be in this church. We started attending Andy Stanley’s church in the late 1990’s. We spent a decade in his church before moving to Massachusetts for my husband’s work in 2009. We would drive for 20 hours down to Atlanta for Christmas and Easter services; we watched Stanley’s sermons online every week.

Five years ago, my husband was offered a choice to relocate to anywhere in the United States. We picked Georgia because of North Point Ministries. We attended Woodstock City Church, where Stanley’s sermons were beamed in every Sunday (NPM has six churches across Georgia). Our entire family’s lives revolved around our church, including Kat’s. Every Sunday, she would go to church to lead worship at the 9am service, lead a 2nd-grade small group at 11am, then worship at the 1:30pm adult service, and then finally attend the high school service at 4:30pm. She “hosts” a bible study in her car before school and writes an inspirational Christian blog.

I’d always been affirming of the LGBT-community. A few years ago, I heard Andy preach that the church should be the “safest place for gay youth.” These words were music to my ears. I had always wondered if my views lined up with my church on this topic and I finally felt I had clear confirmation that we were on the same page. I had also heard him preach a sermon incorporating a story about a gay couple who volunteered at his church. I never felt a need to ask further questions back then.

Before I knew my daughter was gay, my husband and I had already assured her and all our children that we would be a safe place for them if they did come out. We even offered to house any of their friends who might need a safe place to crash after coming out to their parents. So when she did come out to us in February 2018, it was a fairly nonchalant affair. She told her close friends and even her small group in church, and everyone was amazingly supportive.

Things changed in June 2018. Billboard Magazine was doing a series about celebrities who had come out, and Kat decided that she wanted to come out publicly on Facebook. She posted a beautiful “love letter” to the gay community and for the first time publicly declared that she is gay. It was part of a campaign for PRIDE month and I couldn’t be prouder of the words she wrote. The comments she received were so positive and uplifting.

She received no negative feedback until she attended church the next weekend, where she was told she could no longer lead at North Point Ministries. She felt disowned by her church family. When her birthday rolled around in August, no one from church — her main community — celebrated it with her.

The leaders at our church gave various ‘reasons’ why she could no longer lead. One person on staff told her that it was for her safety that they didn’t want her to lead, as they did not want anyone who was against gay people to confront her at church. When Kat responded, saying, “I will have to deal with this my whole life, I don’t mind dealing with it,” they told her that these confrontations would take the focus away from what they were trying to do at church.

The pastor of Woodstock City Church, Gavin, wrote to us in late July that “in most of our leadership volunteer positions (small group leaders, stage, etc.), when a person goes through a significant life change moment (as Kaitlyn is doing), we often ask them to step away for a season for their own health.” I told him that I did consider my daughter’s coming out as a “significant life change,” but it was a “positive” one that should be celebrated. “As far as I know the church doesn’t have you take a break when you get engaged, married, find out your expecting or buying your first home. Why would they?” I replied.

Gavin responded via email* more than a week later with his rationale for why he had to ask my daughter to step away:

“Your daughter’s public pronouncement can be celebrated by family and friends. But if we ignore it or pretend it didn’t happen publicly, we potentially will cause others to stumble: other volunteers who are still exploring faith, other parents who don’t agree or understand, and other kids who aren’t ready for this conversation.

“If I could say it this way: This is so much bigger than your daughter. Paul believed it was way bigger than him, too. This is as big as our mission and the Kingdom, and anything that could cause our mission to suffer is always considered. Sometimes that feels deeply personal. But I would ask you to consider if it’s worth taking this stand and continuing to volunteer in the exact same position if someone else’s faith would struggle or never begin.” (bolding is my emphasis)

Once I realized he was implying that our fight for our daughter would cause other people to lose their faith, and he was implicitly asking us if we wanted that responsibility on our hands, I stopped communicating. I was done.

I do not know why “the safest place in the world for gay teens” has a policy that will not allow gay people to be in leadership. I do know that if I knew about this policy of North Point Ministries, I would not have started going here twenty years ago. I feel misled by Andy Stanley; he was not only lying to us, he was deceiving gay people in his church. My daughter thought her church was a safe place to bring her gay friends, and she still feels guilty for having exposed her friends to that church.

I met with Woodstock’s leadership to let them know that their policies needed to match their preaching, and that if they weren’t going to let gay people in every position then they needed to be clear about that upfront. I was told that it was because of my daughter’s choice to come out publicly that the church’s hands were tied so they had to enforce their policy.

After the last communication with Woodstock’s leadership, my family and I, with broken hearts, began the search for a new church. We’ve since met amazing community and my daughter has found a new place that encourages her to use her gifts. She’s dating someone, and we have found joy in ways we did not expect.

I only hope that North Point Ministries will understand that while they may have ‘good intentions,’ to be unclear is never the loving thing to do. It only causes harm.


 

Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 5,000 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email lizdyer55@gmail.com