The Christian Academy of Louisville in Kentucky told students to write letters urging a fictional gay friend to renounce homosexuality. The assignment, which was due on Thursday, came to light after a parent of one of the students shared screenshots of the rubric with a friend, who then posted them online.
The assignment was apparently part of an elective “Christian Worldview” class for middle school students. It tells kids to imagine someone they’ve known since kindergarten who attends their church and is “struggling with homosexuality.” Students are told to write a letter to that fictional friend explaining how “God’s design for them is good,” how “homosexuality will not bring them satisfaction,” and that “you love them even though you don’t approve of their lifestyle.”
They are explicitly told not to “approve of any sin.”
An “excellent” score is given to kids who quote from Scripture, communicate “truth lovingly,” and have a “logical argument to persuade.”
Which is to say: Students get top marks if their letter is theoretically convincing enough to turn a gay person straight… even though that’s not how it works in reality.
Gay people don’t turn straight. Conversion therapy is a harmful lie. In Christian environments like these, gay people often end up suppressing their desires and pretending they’re straight in order to live up to the homophobic expectations of the church.
JP Davis, the local businessman who shared the screenshots, is one of those people. He explained to the Courier Journal why this assignment bothered him on a personal level.
… He spent the first 23 years of his life hiding his homosexuality, he said, before coming out as a gay man.
It took him a long time to gather the courage to go public, he said, and as he gets closer to 40, Davis said he doesn’t want the next generation to face the same struggles.
“The statistics speak for themselves on suicide among LGBTQ+ people, and these are seventh-graders that are being subjected to hate and division, and it’s not necessary,” Davis said. “I know it’s a Christian school, but that’s not my Christianity. That’s not my values. And that’s not what Jesus, if they want to make that argument, represented. Jesus didn’t go around asking people to judge and tell other people how they’re wrong and shame.“
Christian Academy of Louisville School System Superintendent Darin Long confirmed the assignment to the newspaper, before attempting to defend the school’s promotion of Christian bigotry:
The homework was “part of a unit of study which discusses ‘What are humans and where is their identity?'” Long wrote, and “in context, was how a person could discuss homosexuality with a friend from a biblical perspective with compassion and love.”
“This hypothetical friend conversation was for our students to review the class discussions and their perspectives on the subject,” his statement said. “Moving forward, we will review this assignment to ensure there is clarity in its purpose and language.”
Nothing he said makes this better. Clarity isn’t the issue. The assignment wasn’t hard to figure out. It tells students that being gay is a problem, which is a lie. It urges students to treat gay people as targets for conversion, which has horrible implications. It suggests the Bible defends their actions, which many progressive Christians would argue isn’t true. The overall goal is turn these children into future bigots like the adults running this school.
I’d bet good money that students aren’t told to write letters urging friends to turn away from other “sins.” Does anyone think their next assignment is to write a letter encouraging a friend to stop murdering people? To stop being racist? To stop working on the Sabbath? Hell no. The Christians at this school don’t give a shit about actual problems. They wants students to go after gay kids and makes their lives worse.
That’s the moral lesson students are supposed to take away from all this; that telling a gay friend that God wants them to be straight is the “loving” thing to do.
(A better assignment might have been to interview real-life gay people about how their lives are worse as a result of conservative Christians. That would never be assigned though, because the students might actually learn something useful.)
Saying that this school operates from a “biblical worldview” shouldn’t distract anyone from the real story: That conservative Christian schools like these use religion as cover to indoctrinate children with hateful, evidence-free beliefs. This time, it’s homophobia. Other times, it’s Creationism. These are schools that teach warped Barton-esque versions of U.S. history that downplay the impact of sexism and racism while pretending the Founding Fathers could do no wrong. Long even had the audacity to claim his school “encourages tolerance,” before adding that it also tells students marriage is “between one man and one woman.”
This is a bigot factory that disguises itself as a place of knowledge.
I guess the only silver lining to this assignment is that kids had to write a letter to a fictional gay friend. That’s probably because these kids don’t have any actual gay friends to target with their hateful letters masquerading as expressions of “Christian love.”
This is what real classroom indoctrination looks like, by the way. It’s brought to you by the same kind of people who complain about public schools bringing race, gender, and sexuality into the classroom. It’s just an awful school run by heartless people.
No decent parents should be sending their kids to a garbage institution like this.