Some private Christian schools provide students with an excellent education.
Some private Christian schools just use the religious label as cover to spread hatred and bigotry.
That second thing is what happened recently at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee. Last week, the school sent all parents an email letting them know about an upcoming seminar meant to offer a “gospel response” to LGBTQ issues:
The school emailed an invitation to parents that reads: “Please join us for an enlightening look into the craziness our culture is throwing at our kids and leave equipped with a gospel response to share with them. When Superman is rewritten to be a homosexual, when parents allow children to choose their genders, and some schools are embracing students for being courageous by ‘coming out’ and considering transitioning…how do you respond biblically?”
Jason Ellis, BCS Director of Student Ministries and BCS Principal Eric Sullivan will host the training sessions.
Superman wasn’t “rewritten” and he’s not gay; it’s a different character (technically Clark Kent’s son, who takes on his dad’s alter ego) and he’s bisexual.
Children don’t choose their genders; parents choose whether or not to accept their children.
And yes, schools should welcome students regardless of sexual orientation or identity.
The biblical response ought to be: That’s fine. Be happy. Now get out your math homework.
But apparently the existence of LGBTQ people in society is cause for some sort of five-alarm fire that requires the principal and another staffer to let parents know what to do. Who knew it took a full hour to tell parents to love their kids?
When the flyer began spreading on social media days ago, Briarcrest officials responded exactly as you’d expect: They released a statement that began “Briarcrest is a Christian School that teaches and upholds the biblical principles found in scripture,” implied that being “biblically literate” meant demonizing LGBTQ identities, and acted like they were victims of being silenced.
No one was expecting them to do anything less. After all, this isn’t just a Christian school. This is a Christian school founded as a segregation academy — a place for white parents to send their kids so they didn’t have to attend newly integrated public schools several decades ago.
It’s also the Christian school featured in the movie The Blind Side — which is based on a true story though the movie used a fictitious named for the school. That film, about a Black student adopted by a white Christian family who goes on to become a football phenom, has become a textbook example of the “white savior” complex: where a white family swoops in and saves the day for the Black student.
So when the school has a longstanding reputation for segregation and racism, we can’t expect them to show any empathy toward the people Jesus taught them (at least in their minds) to malign. It’s the same script for a new era.
The criticism isn’t just coming from outside the Christian bubble, though. One former Braircrest student — who’s still a Christian — was appalled by this seminar and spoke about the bullying he experienced while attending the school:
I have been made aware of the upcoming BCS Parent Institute Training regarding the “biblical response to culture’s gender theory,” and this further reminds me that my Christian values do not align with Briarcrest Christian Schools. The only thing that will come from these “lectures” is more LGBTQ+ children contemplating, attempting, or successfully dying by suicide. I should know. I contemplated suicide throughout my schooling at Briarcrest because I was mercilessly bullied, attacked, and called a “f*ggot” evey single day. I am lucky to be alive, no thanks to the Briarcrest administration…
… When a child takes his or her own life because of what you “taught” their parents at this upcoming seminar, you will have blood on your hands. You can’t talk a child out of being LGBTQ+, but what you can do is further alienate them from the goodness and love that true Christianity brings to each of us.
You give Christianity a bad, bad name. I’m embarrassed to tell people I attended Briarcrest Christian School.
The event in question happened yesterday, but it hasn’t stopped more groups from speaking out against this kind of Christian hate:
Ginger Leonard with the Tennessee Equality Project works to advocate for the equal rights of the LGBTQ community.
She said this is something that shouldn’t happen even at a private Christian school.
“I can’t imagine what lives in the heart of a parent or a person who deals with children to think it’s even ok to have that conversation. It’s beyond me,” she said.
OUT Memphis also released a statement that reads in part: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this repugnant approach to youth education. We call on the administration of Briarcrest to open their eyes and acknowledge the harm they are inflicting.”
They’ll never acknowledge the harm because it falls under their rubric for “Christian love.” How can they fix something they believe is a requirement of Christianity? Bigotry is baked into their version of the faith.
The way to stop this is for decent parents to take their kids out of this school, for graduates to speak out publicly against the school’s actions, and for the wider community to openly condemn this sort of Christian hate speech fueled by a complete misunderstanding of the subject.
(Thanks to everyone for the link)