What I want for Mother’s Day: Standing with the Trans Community in Texas

The 2021 Texas legislature began with over 40 bills meant to constrain the lives of transgender people in our state. In the closing week, several remain on the docket and may be passed and signed into law. Passage will mean tragedy for families and youth across Texas.

Week after week this spring, trans youth and their parents and other members of the trans community have had their dignity attacked as state lawmakers and others have debated their humanity and rights publicly as if they are not real people and faithful families with their own stories. Crowds have filled committee rooms at the State Capitol.

Again and again, bill sponsors and advocates have declared that their punitive bills represent God’s will and that they know better than children’s parents and doctors and our trans neighbors what is best for them. Allies and members of the trans community have spoken to educate the gathered bodies about the damage the laws will wreak in lives lost to despair, suicide, and violence. They have affirmed the value and rights of all people. The mother of a trans girl shared how her daughter was considering suicide before reliable and reversible gender-affirming medical care helped her emerge from debilitating depression. Courageous teenagers, trans girls and boys, patiently and passionately shared with legislative committees their personal journeys and dreams.

These are parents who have walked day by day, year by year with their children. Mothers who have sought to understand their children and love them in the midst of the small victories, temper tantrums, discoveries, and moments of blossoming present in the lives of every child. Parents who have wrestled through their own fears and grief and have discovered they love and celebrate the person their child truly is.

These are young people who have claimed themselves and have often faced bias as a result.

These are families who deserve the rights all families in Texas expect, that they will enjoy the space and privacy to work through the challenges of life in ways that build love and help children grow into thriving adults.

In their stories I heard the core of Jesus’ message: All people are loved by God. Full stop. All are made in God’s image and are worthy of the protections and opportunities afforded by our state and country. The Episcopal Church affirms this claim when it calls upon the baptized to “respect the dignity and freedom of every human being” and to “seek and serve Christ in all people, loving [their] neighbor as [themselves].” (BCP)

The worth of a person is not determined through public debate on the private details of a person’s life.

These bills will do nothing to make children or young people safe, and they will exacerbate an already tragic truth: that Texas stands near the top of the country in numbers of suicides of trans youth and in violent crimes against trans adults.

Mother’s Day is Sunday and Father’s Day follows in a month. All parents need space and trusted advisors to walk with their children toward adulthood. Parents must be able to access trusted medical advice and life-giving activities for their children without fear, so that they can help their children grow and thrive in a difficult world.

As a faith leader and a mother, I urge the legislature, in an affirmation of human dignity and with a spirit of compassion, to defeat these bills.


Toward Eliminating Bias in Hiring

How do you think we can reduce bias in calling and hiring?

The Episcopal Herald

Equal compensation and opportunity in employment for minorities and women should be as American as baseball and apple pie. Would that they were as Episcopal as the 8 o’clock Rite One, stoles at justice marches, and swag in the Exhibit Hall!

Biased hiring processes are not simply a justice issue for the those who suffer the consequences of bias. They are detrimental to the mission of the Church, and they rob the Body of the gifts poured upon God’s people by the Holy Spirit. How good that we are talking about concrete ways to address this issue!

The Constitution and Canons Committee will take up resolution D026, seeking to help the Episcopal Church to eliminate bias in hiring and deployment through proposed changes to canons I.17 and III.1.2. The resolution expands the protected classes, and it imbeds prohibitions to discrimination in employment in canons related to the ministry of…

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Coming soon to a School near me? Lord, Have Mercy.

Pentecost 2018

“Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability….At this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.” Acts 2

My news feed today overflows with delight over the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry’s, sermon at the royal wedding, and grief over the latest school shooting, right here in our neighborhood, that left 10 dead and 13 wounded at Santa Fe High School on Friday. Bishop Curry’s words about love, the power of redemptive love, imagining what the world would be like if government and commerce were characterized by love, confront us American adults as we acknowledge the tragedy in Santa Fe.

We have had 19 years since two students shot up Columbine High School in Colorado. Nineteen years to study the problem and take action to reduce the frequency of school shootings. In some schools, teachers have received additional training in mental health first aid, or in the prevention of bullying. A few more background checks are required prior to gun purchases. But they are not universal and do nothing to prevent the use of parents’ guns (the source in Sandy Hook and in Santa Fe), or of legally obtained guns. The expiration of the prohibition of sales of military grade weapons in 2004 has expanded access to those guns in the time since Columbine. In most schools, from elementary to college, students have been schooled in active shooter responses. All in all, it has been a paltry response; little has been done.

Since 1999, we have lost kindergartners and administrators, teachers and seniors days from graduation. Each time we have assured families and educators of our thoughts and prayers. We have talked about legislative solutions like background checks, while others talked about arming teachers. No conversation or action, whether by people in their private and individual capacity or by elected officials, has slowed the bloodshed. Students at Santa Fe High School reported that they were not surprised by the tragedy that engulfed their school; given the frequency of these incidents, they assumed it would happen to them one day.

Any conversation about the school shootings resembles Babel more than Pentecost. Emotion laden speeches decry the violence and announce “Never again!” Yet, those rejecting the idea that the super-availability of guns is a primary cause speak in a language never understood by gun control advocates. And those demanding or pleading for restrictions on guns speak in a foreign tongue members of the NRA dismiss as incomprehensible. Each side speaks loudly. But no one hears and understands.

We need a Pentecost miracle. We need people of courage to step outside their locked and convicted groups and to gather with those who do not yet understand them. We need people of courage to sit down with those with whom they vigorously disagree, and to speak and to listen. We need elected officials committed to sit down and listen until they understand the other side, to stay at the table until a next step can be taken. More than anything, we need the Holy Spirit to blow through this farce of a debate and bring us to conversation and conversion.

19 years is too long to wring our hands while other parents bury their children, and other schools grieve the deaths of dedicated teachers and coaches. 19 years is so long that our children go to school wondering if today will be the day that the violence traumatizes them forever. They expect it. They expect it! Fourteen year-olds expect that a classmate will bring loaded guns to school and shoot their classmates and teachers. Let us listen and soberly take note.

We are failing them. We are failing each other. We cannot let the complexity of the problem – with its threads of mental health issues, bullying, gun culture, the teenaged brain, violence in movies, games, and the media, and so many other realities – excuse our utter failure to work with those with whom we disagree to forge real actions to return peace and safety to our schools.

What would the world be like if we approached this issue in love? If we listened to each other in love? If we committed to work together in love to end the violence in our schools?

Pray for a Pentecost miracle. Come, Holy Spirit, Come.