At INTERCHANGE: “Scripture and Science and Sex, OH MY!”

6cafa7f65ae286b6d782da379ac5af04Evangelical Christian and LGBTIQ ally, Kathy Baldock, is confirmed for INTERCHANGE on Saturday June 29th at the Bozeman Public Library.

You may remember Kathy from last year’s Montana Pride Celebration- she was the one leading the contingent of people wearing T-shirts that said “Hurt by Church? Get a Str8 Apology Here.”

She also led the counter protest against the “Christian” on the ladder during the parade.

When I asked Kathy what she hoped to give us at this workshop, she said, “I want people to realize that the limits of scripture and science and human knowledge have to always be tempered by human experience. In the six years of engaging in dialogue with the straight Evangelical and Protestant communities, I have learned what works to bring understanding on the issue of homosexuality and the Bible. I want to help you find the way to productive conversations through Scripture, science, reasoning and discussion techniques.”

Kathy Baldock, of Canyonwalker Connections, represents the journey many Evangelical Christians are considering as they try to reconcile what the have been told about the LGBTQ community and what they are experiencing  in relationship with gay and transgender friends. The tension of “How do I understand what the Bible says?” with “How do I accurately represent Jesus?” is creating conflict in the conservative church. From her own life, Kathy will share how she has been able to guide people with their personal questioning in a new way to a fuller understand of the message of God’s inclusion of His LGBT children.

This presentation is sponsored by Gallatin Valley PFLAG.

Matthew Vines: Reforming The Gay Christian Debate

By Kathy Baldock, Courtesy of LGBTQ Nation

“What does the Bible say about loving, same-sex relationships?”

Nothing. Not a thing.

And in that absence of Biblical direction of support for or condemnation of these relationships, Christians need to follow the general principles of the Bible: love, justice and kindness.

This was the point Matthew Vines wanted to emphasize at his recent presentation at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.

Matthew’s story is intriguing; he began to understand and accept that he was gay while in his first semesters at Harvard. The Wichita native knew, that by accepting his sexual orientation, he was risking his long time status in the Presbyterian church in which he had been raised, as well as relationships with family and friends.

“You realize how alone you might be when you come out,” recalled Matthew. He resolved to take a leave of absence from Harvard to embark on a scholarly study of the subject of homosexuality in the Bible.

What most people see and know of Matthew is his excellent 67-minute video, “The Gay Debate.” The presentation in itself is quite remarkable; the young man is even more impressive.

Read the rest here.

Tonight: “The Argument for LGBT-Inclusive Christianity”

Get to the Bozeman Library tonight at 7pm…!

Kathy Baldock, a straight, Evangelical Christian and Executive Director of Canyonwalker Connections, will offer the public a chance to consider, discuss and debate the arguments for a Christianity that is welcoming and affirming of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered persons. All are welcome.
For More about Kathy and her experience, please visit http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/about-2/ .

This forum is presented By Montana Pride 2012

 

MT Pride 2012 Presents Kathy Baldock: The Argument For LGBT-Inclusive Christianity

I’m really very excited. Here’s why:

My friend Kathy Baldock will be journeying to Montana from Reno this week to join us for MT Pride 2012. She will be here to speak to faith leaders, join her LGBT brothers and sisters for Montana Pride and will present at least twice. The first is at the Bozeman Public Library on Tuesday.

Entitled “The Argument For LGBT-Inclusive Christianity”, Kathy will share her story (which is really remarkable) and her conviction that there is nothing that prevents Christianity from openly embracing and affirming LGBT persons. Here’s the blurb:

Kathy Baldock, a straight, Evangelical Christian and Executive Director of Canyonwalker Connections, will offer the public a chance to consider, discuss and debate the arguments for a Christianity that is welcoming and affirming of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered persons.

For More about Kathy and her experience, please visit http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/about-2/ .
This forum is presented By Montana Pride 2012.

Kathy will also present a workshop at Montana Pride 2012. Talking to Churches and Faith Leaders- How Do We Start? Evangelical Christian and LGBT ally Kathy Baldock will offer some guidance and understanding about creating a conversation with Christian faith leaders. She will share her experiences in changing hearts and minds about LGBT persons in churches and faith communities. She will also address the topic of creating “open and affirming” churches.

She will be hanging out with us all week and will be marching in the parade and participating in the Pride Interfaith Service, Sunday June 17th , 10 am at the Holiday Inn.

Kathy is also available to the faith communities of the area during the week she is here. If you’d like to speak to her, please contact me at dgsma@hotmail.com.

To my mind, equality will be won when we do two things:

  1. Win over the churches, and
  2. Engage the families of LGBT people in our struggle- especially the moms.

With Kathy’s help, we’re going to do our best to win over some churches in the next week- and maybe a few mothers….

MONTANA PRIDE 2012: DETAILS!

For the second year, Bozeman will be hosting the 2012 Montana Pride Celebration on the weekend of June 15-17. Montana Pride is a statewide celebration of diversity and equality, which attracted thousands to Bozeman in 2011 for a weekend packed-full of community fun, education and celebrating diversity. The Pride Celebration is an annual event implemented and developed by the Montana Pride Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit volunteer organization with board members from across the state.

The Pride Celebration gathers local, state-wide and regional friends of the LGBTQ Community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersex, Queer and Questioning) as well as the Native American Two-Spirit Society.

For 2012 Pride, Bozeman has expanded their venues and weekend activities to accommodate even greater participation and involvement. Venues include the Ballrooms at Montana State University, various business locations in Downtown Bozeman, The Bozeman Public Library and more. Pride Weekend will include a schedule of dynamic entertainment from all around the mountain west including our Friday night concert with Jessie and the Toy Boys, a Saturday morning Pride Parade on Main Street, thoughtful weekend workshops, panel discussions, music by Katie Goodman of Broad Comedy on Saturday Night, with local and regional drag talent both evenings, hosted parties and evening dances. The Bozeman planning committee continues to welcome friends of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate Pride, honesty and equality with us.

Our highly-attended Pride Parade on Main Street, Saturday morning June 16th is open for all ages to attend and/or participate, as it will be a community and family-oriented event with Grand Marshals from Montana’s own Legislature, Diane Sands, Christine Kaufmann, Bryce Bennett and from the Montana Human Rights Network, Jamee Greer. The Pride Parade will begin at West Main Street and South 3rd Ave and will end at the Bozeman Public Library Lawn, with an Equality Rally and Festival following for the whole family. Parade registration forms are available on our website, and must be completed in advance for approval.

We’re excited to have featured members of our community openly participating during Pride, which includes Electra Sexton and various Drag Performers from Montana, Christian evangelist Kathy Baldock will be presenting a vision of LGBTQ-inclusive Christianity, Roberta Zenker will be sharing excerpts and stories from her recently-published memoir, Trans-Montana and a number of talented local DJ’s will be keeping the rhythm primed at our evening dances.

Free HIV Testing will be available throughout the weekend.

Weekend General Admission passes and VIP packages are for sale online at www.montanapride.org, seating at certain weekend events will be limited so early-ticket purchases are greatly encouraged. Youth Activities for ages 15-18 have been scheduled along with our regularly planned 18+ mature audience events Friday& Saturday night, with childcare also being available during our day time activities.

In 2011 regional business and organizational sponsorships were a huge aspect of our success and gave us the ability to grant over $10K back into Montana’s growing momentum for quality and diversity. For 2012, we’d like to welcome back the support not only of our vibrant community, but also the businesses and organizations, big and small, that daily contribute so much to making Montana a beautiful place to live. Please visit our website if you or someone you know is interested in sponsoring this year’s event. The Montana Pride website also has lists of local hotels for weekend-rates, Volunteer Opportunities, and resources for our Saturday Festival.

So please save the date, mark your calendars, and JOIN us for another ground-swelling year of celebrating Pride, honesty and the pursuit of happiness in Montana.

See you there!

“Day of Dialogue” From Focus On The Family is Sacred Discrimination

By Kathy Baldock

I have a hair-trigger sensitivity for the protection of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (glbt) youth.  Even if an action is wrapped in heart-themed paper and tied with a Jesus-loves-you ribbon, when there is something rotten inside, I can smell it. There is something very rotten at the core of the Day of Dialogue event sponsored by the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family.

I raised my family on Biblical principles I learned from Dr. James Dobson at Focus; we rarely missed the radio-drama “Adventures in Oddessy.” I was a regular listener and donor.  And now, I do not trust Focus on the Family.  There, I said it.  I do not trust them. Their Day of Dialogue event is thinly disguised sacred discrimination of gay and transgender youth.

Day of Dialogue, scheduled for April 19, 2012, “encourage(s) student-initiated conversations about the fact that God cares about our lives, our relationships and our sexuality.”  I think it would be more honest to call it the “Seventh Annual Tell the Gay Kids They Need to Change for God to Love Them Day.”

Focus on the Family has a miserable record in successful and productive engagement with the glbt community.  They actively warn against the inclusion of protection for gender identity and sexual orientation for children.  In “Parents Beware” , published in CitizenLink (an affiliate of Focus on the Family), Day of Dialogue coordinator Candace Cushman warns of “red flags to watch for” in schools, such as;

  • School partnerships with outside advocacy groups that have names like “Safe Schools Alliance” or “Welcoming Schools.”
  • “Anti-bullying” polices that list special protections for “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”

Currently, under federal law, religion, sex, country of origin, race and disabilities are protected classes; sexual orientation and gender identity are not.  The Safe Schools Information Act, Student Non-Discrimination Act and Elementary and Secondary Education Act renewal, which all include gender identity and sexual orientation designations, are scheduled to be voted on in the next Congress. Focus on the Family advises followers to not support their inclusion in these legislations.

In the “Guiding Principles” for Day of Dialogue, there is an anti-bullying statement, yet Focus  does not recognize the right for the 
protection of children under the classifications of gender identity and sexual orientation. (Be sure to watch “Bully” when it comes to your city and then consider “Why wouldn’t every Christian ministry actively support the federal protection of gay and transgender children?”)

If this program were really focused on the message of God’s care and love for fellow students, why does it directly precede the Day of Silence? (Historically, it has been immediately following Day of Silence.)  Day of Silence, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), began in 1996 to bring attention to anti-GLBT name calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students and schools are encouraged to share the problem of anti-GLBT behaviors. Focus on the Family views the efforts of GLSEN as “promoting homosexuality to our kids.”  Day of Dialogue is unmistakably a reaction to Day of Silence; to promote it as anything less is to be quite disingenuous.

Read the rest here.

STUDENT NON DISCRIMINATION ACT NEEDED TO PROTECT GLBT YOUTH FROM BULLYING

Kathy Baldock, www.canyonwalkerconnections.com

Casey, sixteen and gay, was being bullied by two students at his high school in Ohio. His youth pastor, a friend of mine, helped to secure a restraining order to protect him, but the principal downgraded the severity with a weaker solution.  He let Cody come to the office five minutes before classes ended and stay until five minutes after they started; Casey would then be safe from bullying in the hall-passing time.  One of Casey’s bullies was still in class with him.  Did this principal create a safe learning environment and protect Casey from abuse?  Why did it even get this far?  Why was there no policy in place to protect this child from bullying due to his sexual orientation or even his perceived sexual orientation?

No gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (glbt) child in public schools in the United States is federally protected from bullying and harassment for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Shocked?  This is true.  No Child Left Behind (2001), soon to be re-authorized after ten years in the updated Elementary and Secondary Education Re-Authorization 2011 (ESEA), made it out of committee in October 2011 without the bipartisan support it needed to include protection for glbt students.   Currently, students are protected from bullying for: race, sex, religion, disabilities and national origin, but not sexual orientation and gender identity.

When the ESEA is brought to the floor of the Senate in either December or January, there is a push to attach the Student Non-Discrimination Act HR 4350 (SNDA) to it. SNDA includes comprehensive federal prohibitions against discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  It would forbid schools with public funding to discriminate against glbt students or ignore harassing behaviors.

The bill was re-introduced, having not been added in committee in ESEA, by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). (watch the video, grab a tissue.)  Co-sponsored by 34 senators, it needs the approval of 60 senators to attach it to the ESEA before going to the House for a vote before it becomes law.

“Is it needed?” you may ask.  Only 13 states have laws protecting glbt students from harassment at school; this is not a surprising statistic when you also realize that 15 states do not even include sexual orientation and gender identity on the “hate crimes” list; in 29 states you can still be fired for being gay; and in 34 states you can be fired for being trans.

Come on, it is really necessary to pass another law?  Lots of kids are bullied in school; that is “just the way it is.”  Research shows highly rejected glbt youth were at a very high risk for health and mental problems when they become young adults.  Highly rejected glbt youth were:

  • More than 8 times as likely to attempt suicide
  • Nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression
  • More than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs and
  • More than 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases *

Knowing that the primary socializing institutions for children and youth are families, schools and faith communities, should we not try to make those places safer for children?  This is not just a “family issue” forglbt youth.  Many of them are not even out in their own families.  As mysterious as that may seem, the biggest loss a child fears is family rejection so many will delay coming out to their own parents.  Churches are wellknown sources of anti-gay rhetoric, leaving many children thinking they have only one protected place: school.

Now is the time to voice to your senators and representative  that it is their duty as public servants to serve the most vulnerable of their constituents: glbt children.  Tell them to get on record now in support of the Senate bill and the version that comes to the House.  Any senator or representative that votes against the protection of vulnerable children should not hold that position of trust.

I am a Mom too, with two straight, adult children.  I am a straight, Evangelical Christian compelled by my faith to stand for justice and against oppression.  The argument of some conservative family groups and lobbies against this bill is the fear that this bill will “victimize people of faith by turning religiously-based, anti-gay comments into ‘thought crimes’ ” (Rep. John Kline R-MN).  This is fear-based rhetoric.  Anti-discrimination laws punish actions, not opinions or beliefs.

Who should care and act on this now:

  • Parents of glbt children.  There are over 350 chapters of Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG) with over 200,000 members nationwide.  Be the advocates you already are and tell your families and friends to insist on the addition of the SNDA in the ESEA.
  • Educators who see the crises and have no guidelines under which to operate when they witness bullying of glbt students.  School boards will take seriously the loss of federal funding should they not enforce the law.
  • Members of the glbt community know the damage many of them suffered for being gay or perceived as gay.
  • Christians are to take seriously the mandates of our faith to fight injustice and stand against oppression (oh, and toss in a good dose of helping the poor) Isaiah 58. A Christian who would consider blocking the protection of a child needs to consider deeply the examples of Jesus.
  • Any parent that understands the difficulty of peer bullying in schools.  Consider that the children that may not be yours suffer it more profoundly; look at those stats again for rejection of glbt youth.  Teach your children well.
  • Conservative family groups need to hold to their own missions—protecting families which include glbt youth.  The irony of Family Research Council ignoring family research and producing policies directly impacting the health and mental wellness of glbt youth is glaring.  Focus on the Family really does need to focus on families and help families with glbt youth.  Concerned Women for America should be concerned about the children of women in America.  Excluding glbt children from the mission statements of those organizations shows severe bias which places religious beliefs over a higher calling of caring for the families and children that even the names of their organizations imply.
  • Any person with even a modicum of wisdom that understands that all children desire the comforts of love, acceptance and security. Healthy children grow into healthy adults and build healthy societies.

Bottom line: who should care that the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) be voted into law as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Re-Authorization Act (ESEA)?  All of us. Partisan politics drives me crazy.  When I see a vote that goes right down party lines, I know the public servants are voting to maintain power and money balances and have succumb to party/special interest groups pressure.  Voting for the protection of children is not a partisan issue.  Every public servant in this country should be protecting the least of these.

And what has become of Casey? Along with his youth pastor, PFLAG stepped in to protect this child. The school administration knows they are being watched and are more cautious. This is what ESEA will do for all children and in all schools; it will strengthen the federal law to include the protection glbt students against bullying.  And, after five years of blocking a Gay Student  Alliance (GSA), Casey’s school now has one and he is the president. He is safer.

Apply pressure and make your voice heard now.  There are 90 million children in this country under 18 years of age, including approximately 4.5 million that are glbt.  Speak up for their safety and insist that the non-inclusion of SNDA at the committee level be corrected when ESEA comes to Senate vote in December or January.  Insist and speak up for Casey and other glbt students.

RECAP:

Contact your senators and representatives and tell them that it is essential that the SNDA (HR 4350) become part of ESEA when it comes for vote in the Senate in December or January.  It will expand the protection from bullying based on: religion, sex, national origin and disabilities to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity for glbt students. And stay on them, especially the Republicans who may be resistant to approve it. And big kudos to Al Franken, thank him too. 

 

*Family Acceptance Project, Dr. Caitlin Ryan, “Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children” (2009)