Day of Silence

Friday, April 27, 2018, is the Day of Silence sponsored by the Gay Lesbian Straight Educational Network (GLSEN). The stated purpose of the day is “to take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school.”  The purpose of GLSEN is “to ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Trinity School has decided to support students and faculty who want to participate in this day. (We also support students and faculty who choose not to participate, and we are not endorsing GLSEN.) Upper School Director Warren Gould wrote a helpful and articulate explanation of the school’s decision and position on this and sent it to the students and parents in our Upper School–the Day is mostly an Upper School thing at Trinity.  

Yesterday I attended a gathering of students and faculty in preparation for this day. We were all asked why we were participating in the day, and at the end we prayed together. I am very grateful for that time together, and I think it might be important for me, both as the Head of School and as a Christian, to say why I am particpating in this day. (Full disclosure: I cannot pull off a day of silence, but I am practicing my silence in a limited way and am wanting to make my support as an ally public.)

The first thing to be said is that this is hard and complicated territory for us all: for parents who are wondering about the sexual identity formation of their adolescents; for LGBTQ students who are not ready to be out; for faculty who want to support students but are not sure how to do that; for friends who want to be allies but have questions about sexual identity and the Bible; for many people in our community who want to love all Trinity students and who read their Bibles in a traditional interpretation about homosexuality.  

I am one of those traditionalists. I’ve tried hard over the last several years to read the Scriptures with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters who take what is called an “open and affirming” interpretation of Scripture.  I’ve tried to follow Jim Brownson’s understanding of Romans 1. I’ve listened to and read Matthew Vines and his Reformation Project.  I’ve imagined my own radical transformation of ethics in this area running in parallel with Peter’s reversal of his certainty in Acts 10 and 11 and asked myself if the Spirit could be speaking to the church today is in a similar way. And I’ve tried to understand how the Biblical melody of Christian marriage might be transposed into a same-sex key. But I can’t get there. 

Nevertheless, I am supporting this day because I want every member of Trinity School to be valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  

I don’t think that has been true for past Trinity students, nor is it true for current students. People throw around “that’s so gay” without thinking of the harm it does. Students who are growing up as sexual minorities are expending enormous energy just to keep it together and survive, leaving them fewer resources to learn their math or write their humanities papers.

And, most of all, I am supporting this day because I think that the evangelical church owes its LGBTQ sons and daughters an apology for the fact that we have somehow garbled the message of Jesus’ love for everyone.  We who hold a trandionalist view on these matters have not learned from Jesus how to love as Jesus loved--I haven’t. Too many LGBTQ students have felt that they had to choose between Jesus and being honest and true to themselves. This is complicated, very complicated, and I cannot say everything here. But this much needs to be said: I long for Trinity School to be a place where every student finds guides, friends, and allies in a quest to follow Jesus. Where every student sees and knows the love of Christ in its radically transforming way. I hope that you will join me in praying and working for that--whether you are Side A or Side B or Side Whatever. We are all of us, as Charlotte Mason would say, born persons.

I hope that this Day helps Trinity talk about these things in a new and redemptive way.

Comments

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