We at the Office of Public Witness affirm the rights of children to a safe educational environment and mourn the loss of protections for transgender students ordered by the Administration that jeopardize that safety. It is a moral obligation for every school in the U.S. to protect students from bullying and harassment. We are called to stand with the marginalized and oppressed, and stand with students who may once again experience fear about going to school after a brief period of protection from the federal government.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor churches have explicitly affirmed the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people for almost forty years. This includes a call from the 117th General Assembly (1977) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States to stand for just treatment of LGBT people regarding their civil liberties, equal rights, and protection from social and economic discrimination. We also draw on the General Assembly’s rich history of education advocacy, particularly a 2010 resolution which “recommit[ted] the PC(USA) to the principle of equal educational opportunity for all children in the United States, different as each child may be, and affirms them all as our children, neighbors in our care.” (Loving Our Neighbors: Equity and Quality in Public Education (K-12). Approved by the 219th General Assembly of the PC(USA), 2010.) Support for transgender students is mandated by our larger charge to advocate for rigorous quality education for students, to create affirming environments for all learners, and to live into the idea that children truly are neighbors in our care.
Call the offices of Attorney General Sessions, Education Secretary DeVos and the White House to share your voice. Make sure your Members of Congress hear from you and tell them to pass a trans-inclusive safe schools act. And, advocate at the local level, with your local school board and administration, calling on them to ensure the safety and equal treatment of all students in school policies and their implementation.
In Faith We Share,
Rev. Jimmie Ray Hawkins
Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness