Letter to the Times: LGBTQ+ people should never be persecuted

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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Imagine going through life being told that you are wrong. Not your opinions, not your ideas, not your beliefs — you. Imagine how it would feel, watching your child struggle to find a reason to continue living in a world that insists that they are wrong. There are hundreds of people in Kansas who don’t have to imagine. They know.

Every day, transgender people in Kansas are told that their existence is wrong. From the halls of the state Capitol to the school playground, these messages are neverending. At Plymouth Church, we recognize that many of these messages come from Christians. We know that our religion bears much of the responsibility for vilifying members of the LGBTQ+ communities. We also know that God loves all people, not in spite of who they are, but because of who they are. 

Plymouth supports LGBTQ+ people because they are God’s beloved children and should never be persecuted. For years, they have been under attack from legislation that denies their humanity and seeks to deprive them of the most basic human rights. It is easy to lose track of what legislation is being proposed in state legislatures, but make no mistake, these bills are dangerous and have very real consequences.

The Trevor Project’s 2022 national survey of 13- to 24-year-old members of the LGBTQ+ communities found that of the 34,000 respondents, 45% had seriously considered attempting suicide. One reason for this is that many of the laws recently approved by the Kansas Legislature, and currently being debated in other legislative bodies across the country, target children. These laws seek to deprive them of basic medical care, prevent them from fully participating in school life, reject their identities, and punish adults who love and support them. Many LGBTQ+ youth feel isolated, both at home and at school. Isolation, exclusion, harassment, abuse — these are the things that many LGBTQ+ children must confront every day. Is it any wonder that they are among the populations most at risk of suicide?

In response, and as people of faith, Plymouth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, affirms that transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people share with all others the worth associated with being unique individuals created by God. Considering the struggles they currently face, we especially welcome and affirm the transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming young people. This congregation joyfully and unequivocally welcomes transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people to share in the life, leadership, and blessings of participation in our community of faith. We also commit ourselves to the work of creating not only a world in which transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people are safe but also a world in which they thrive.

— Gretchen Meyer
Chair, Open and Affirming Committee
Plymouth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Lawrence

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