A school in Florida sent an aggressive email comparing homosexuality to incest and bestiality to parents, letting them know that if their kids come out as LGBTQ, they’re going to get kicked out.
“Students who are found participating in these lifestyles will be asked to leave the school immediately,” read an email sent by Grace Christian School administrator Barry McKeen this past June. The email had the subject line, “Important School Policy Point of Emphasis. … Please Read.”
“We believe that God created mankind in His image: male (man) and female (woman), sexually different but with equal dignity,” read the email from the Valrico, Florida school.
“Therefore, one’s biological sex must be affirmed and no attempts should be made to physically change, alter, or disagree with one’s biological gender — including, but not limited to, elective sex reassignment, transvestite, transgender, or non-binary gender fluid acts of conduct (Genesis 1:26-28). Students in school will be referred to by the gender on their birth certificate and be referenced in name in the same fashion.”
“We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgender identity/lifestyle, self-identification, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography are sinful in the sight of God and the church (Genesis 2:24; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:26-29; I Corinthians 5:1; I Corinthians 6:9; I Thessalonians 4:2-7).”
The email said that parents would “have to agree to all policies and procedures before your student may start school in August.”
Students and former students are saying that the school is particularly anti-LGBTQ, even for a private Christian institution. One former student said that McKeen would deliver anti-LGBTQ messages during chapel.
He “started yelling about how if you’re gay you’re going to hell,” the former student told NBC News. “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
Three unnamed former students confirmed a story about how McKeen once went on a rant about how he knew that some students were LGBTQ and that he would find out who they were and that they’d be “kicked out.”
The mother of a gay student who attended the Grace Christian last year said that she pulled her 16-year-old daughter out of the school.
“It’s not like my daughter goes around wearing rainbow flags or anything like that,” the mother told NBC News. “But I’m not going to have her feel ashamed of herself for any reason.”
She said that she enrolled her daughter in another Christian school that’s more accepting of diversity.
“At the new school, I feel normal,” the teen said, explaining that she used to feel like a “social outcast” at Grace Christian.
A transgender alum of Grace Christian who graduated just this past year said that LGBTQ students at the school knew that they couldn’t be out.
“It was not something I could be open about,” he said, describing the climate of fear for LGBTQ students in the school. “Only a select few of my friends could know about it.”
“Sometimes, we couldn’t even know if we could trust people in our friend group because we didn’t know if anybody would say anything to faculty.”
“We know from data, from surveys, from a long track record of LGBTQ youth, that policies like this are inherently harmful,” Josh Bell of the LGBTQ organization One Orlando Alliance said.
“Students who receive these messages are much more likely to experience depression, to experience suicidal ideations, to socially withdraw, to become vulnerable really to all sorts of harmful coping mechanisms.”