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In the faith community where I serve as a Youth Minister, Community of Christ, which affirms and lives out LGBTQ inclusion in the USA and some other countries where we are established, we have a sacred text which says, “Do not neglect the smallest among you, for even the least of these are treasures in God’s sight. Receive the giftedness and energy of children and youth, listening to understand their questions and their wisdom. Respond to their need to be loved and nurtured as they grow.”

Today is #SpiritDay. A day in which we rise up against the acts of bullying towards LGBTQ youth and commit to helping transform a society with structures and cultural differences in place that allow this to happen. GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, reports that 85.2% of LGBTQ students report being verbally harassed” and “63.5% of LGBTQ students report hearing homophobic remarks from teachers and/or school staff because of their gender expression”. The Trevor Project reports that LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth and that they are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.” And science daily has shared that “30 percent of transgender youth report a history of at least one suicide attempt.”

Bullying comes in many forms. It comes through acts of physical assault by peers, family, and others towards LGBTQ chil22528456_10159457796270228_6444362697188102210_ndren and youth on the playgrounds, in the classrooms, in our homes, and other places that should be safe spaces for them to be nurtured and loved.  It comes in the verbal assault of harmful words which we say to degrade others. It comes by using language such as “that’s gay” or “you’re such a fag” and blowing it off as not “meaning it THAT way”, when in reality it reinforces the denormalization of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in society, reduces their humanity as being weird or stupid or different, and has the potential of triggering past acts of bullying and therefore pain experienced. Bullying comes in the societal structures which allow for LGBTQ humans to be treated as second class citizens. It comes in the cultural structures which make it hard or nearly impossible for kids to question, explore, and realize who they truly are. As someone who identifies as bisexual myself, I didn’t experience the kind of bullying, not directly at least, that others face but that’s also because I never felt like I had safe space to question, identify, and live out my orientation at a younger age. I didn’t feel like I had the safe space to figure out what was going on in my attraction towards girls AND boys. And bullying especially thrives on social media where people, from the comfort, safety, and distance, of their home, can make posts and comments that diminish, harass, and oppress other groups of people, including those who are LGBTQ.

For those of us who travel this journey in life seeking to live out the teachings of Christ, what does it mean to love your neighbor when so many of our neighbor’s kids are being bullied, harassed, and even assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity? Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can teach our kids a new of living respectful in community with each other. And most importantly, together we can model that for them. Remember that sacred text from Community of Christ which invites us to “listen to understand their questions and their wisdom. And Respond to their need to be loved and nurtured as they grow.”

To the children and youth out there who are struggling with their orientation or gender identity or are experiencing bullying because of being LGBTQ, You Are Loved. Because… No matter gay, straight, or bi. Lesbian, transgendered life. You’re on the right track, you were born to survive. ‘Cause God makes no mistakes. Yes, you are on the right track, you were born this way.

So on this spirit day. Let’s commit to bringing transformation to ourselves and to our communities so that all of our children and youth have safe spaces to be loved and nurtured.