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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

When Gay Pride Comes to School

Last week, I received an email from my oldest daughter’s school principal. Five paragraphs in, I stumbled on this announcement: “On Friday, October 19, our school will have its first Purple Day, where students are permitted to "accessorize" their uniform with purple items (ie. scarves, ties, socks, headbands etc) in order to raise awareness and promote a spirit of acceptance of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender) within our school. Our newly formed Pride Support Club sponsors this awareness day.”

To be clear, this is not Mix It Up at Lunch Day, where schoolchildren are encouraged to find someone new to sit with at lunchtime. Purple Day may be intended to promote civility among students, but clearly its agenda is more aggressive than this.

I felt Purple Day warranted a response but certainly wasn’t sure exactly what that should look like. The truth is, whenever you disagree with homosexual practice publicly, you are instantly perceived as bigoted and hateful. And this saddens me, because I think it fails to represent the wide reach of the gospel, which teaches that God loves and offers forgiveness to everyone, not on the basis of their moral credibility but on the basis of his Son’s.

I love Jesus, and Jesus loves gay and straight people.

At the same time, I cannot support Purple Day for a number of reasons, which I’ve outlined here in the letter I sent to the middle school and high school principals. I’ve thought to include it here on the blog for several purposes: first, because I hope it’s an example of respectful, yet firm disagreement; second, because you may in your future face a similar situation for which you’ll need words; third, because I want to highlight that I believe calling invites us into our local communities.

I understand we won’t all agree, and I’d welcome your comments, asking only that you express disagreement respectfully.

* * * * *

Dear ________,

I am writing in response to the October 11 communiqué that I received from  __________, informing parents that October 19 has been designated a day to “raise awareness and promote a spirit of acceptance of LGBT within our school.” I do not support this initiative for a number of reasons.

First, I think we might agree that promoting any kind of sexual ethics (whether homosexual or heterosexual) necessarily invokes moral convictions. I believe that moral convictions should be inspired by parents, not the school. I am not simply standing against the promotion of homosexual practice, which I do not, as a matter of faith principle, support. I would equally disagree with the school promoting any kind of heterosexual practice outside the bounds of committed marriage. As an example, were members of the TFS administration or students to stand at the doors and hand out condoms in the spirit of promoting “safe sex,” I would be equally as troubled. These may seem like antiquated values in our contemporary culture, but they are values that matter to me. They are values my husband and I want to teach our children because they are part of what inform and inspire our sense of Christian calling and identity.

The administration has identified they want to promote not only awareness of LGBT but also acceptance. I can agree that it’s important to treat one another civilly, no matter what our sexual orientation, and I oppose bigoted and hateful behavior and speech of all kinds. I can also agree that we will as families, decide our code of sexual ethics differently, and as a matter of fairness, schools must also allow this freedom to parents. If the school aggressively seeks to promote acceptance of LGBT (or any other specific sexual practice), I argue that they are running roughshod over our parental rights, whereby we are granted to be the voice of moral conviction for our families, especially for our younger children. Moreover, if an equal invitation were not extended to children of different convictions (abstinence until marriage, as an example), the school and its administration would be favoring their own biases.

What troubles me most is not that the school is celebrating a certain kind of sexual practice, but advancing it with our middle school aged children. This does not align with the stated curricular objectives of TFS’s sexual education curriculum. I’ve discussed with __________ the content of that curriculum, and incidentally, I was pleased to have been offered the choice of whether to have our daughter participate. The curriculum, for both grades 6 and 7, does not promote any particular set of sexual ethics. Instead, it teaches children to identify and understand the mechanics of their own bodies and the changes they can expect during puberty. My question is: why must the school generate attention to an issue for which the younger students might not arguably have any kind of framework for deciding?

I would argue that Purple Day, whereby all students are asked to promote awareness and acceptance of LGBT, be abandoned. I hope you can understand my concerns, and I am happy to speak further in person on this issue.