Tennessee Parents Protest Formation of Gay-Straight Alliance, Citing Anti-Christian Discrimination

Parents in Lafayette, Tennessee have been protesting the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance club at Macon County High School — but it seems their real problem is that the school’s Christian clubs aren’t receiving the priority treatment they want.

According to the Macon County Times, students at the school have expressed interest in forming a GSA, but aren’t having luck in finding a faculty sponsor. The school’s Principal, Stephanie Meador, told the county’s Board of Education last week that there is no “special treatment” at play for the club whatsoever. In fact, it remains to be seen whether the club will actually get off the ground at all without an advisor.

“As of right now, that group does not have a faculty sponsor… I don’t know the total number of students [involved]; I was only approached by one. I’m sure there were others involved who had been working with the student trying to find a sponsor.

“We just try to do the same thing for every club that wants to be formed; sometimes the kids find a sponsor and sometimes they don’t. And of course I never require anyone to sponsor anything. That’s a choice that they make.”

If the club’s status is still up in the air and no teacher will be forced to sponsor it, why are parents so upset? It might be because new school-wide laws restrict meeting times for all clubs, including the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Clearly, it doesn’t sit well with some parents that students might spend less time in FCA meetings when there’s also an LGBT-focused group in the works. Seriously.

[Parents] complained that the FCA was experiencing restrictions, while a group like GSA was being allowed to organize with no questions asked.

School Principal Stephanie Meador said that this year, all school clubs have been prohibited from meeting during the school day, for scheduling reasons. “This year we’re not letting any school clubs have meetings during the day,” said Meador. “They have to meet before or after school.” She says that FCA was not singled out for this policy.

One volunteer for the school’s FCA, Gene Carman III, is a surprising voice of reason through all this, saying the school’s FCA hasn’t actually faced any unfair treatment. He says:

“If anything, our school system is super, super supportive of FCA. I am very thankful for the opportunity that we have. The FCA is a very neat opportunity that the Lord’s given us.

“I had somebody call me last night because they heard about the whole new club that’s starting. And the thing is, if they’re going to allow FCA, they have to allow other things as well.”

Brilliant! It’s almost like we should be providing our children with equal access to the clubs that matter to them! Someone should create a law about that… Ah, but wait: Carman’s not such a superhero after all. He says that Christian clubs elsewhere are going through dark times as public schools start to place restrictions on open prayer.

“Like in Westmoreland, they can no longer pray before their football games,” said Carman. “They do a moment of silence instead of praying. And that was just as of the year before last. And it was a big stink over there. Coaches cannot pray with their teams anymore. The students can pray, but coaches cannot even stand in the prayer group.”

Finally, the icing on the cake: Carman offers up the ole’ love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin method of dealing with those pesky gay kids at school, confirming everyone’s suspicions that the angry parents in question are no more than a bunch of Christians seeking another outlet for their homophobia.

“We are very very very blessed here, that we can still pray before the games. And students were asking me about the Gay Straight Alliance group, and they were upset about it. I’m like, ‘we have to love these people, you know. I think it’s wrong, but we’ve got to love them and pray for them, and ask the lord to save them.’ So we had a good discussion about it with people in my youth group last night.”

“I think it’s wrong, but we’ve got to ask the lord to save them.” And parents wonder why LGBT students need something like a GSA?

This entire thing reads like a classic case of blaming the gays for a minor inconvenience — and that’s even before the blatant homophobia kicks in. Until some of these parents can step up and stop projecting their intolerance onto the school’s club policy, we’re never going to bridge these gaps. Be decent role models for your athletic Christian children and grow up.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • Steve UK

    No need for these in the UK, thankfully, everybody is free to be who they want to be, Christians included.

  • islandbrewer

    Sounds like a case of “Oh no! We’re acknowledging that icky gay people exist in front of children!”

    • Bitter Lizard

      And they’re bitching about the FCA not being able to meet during the school day. “Okay, kids, you can either take this pop quiz, or opt out to go suck off Jesus.”

      • islandbrewer

        … or opt out to go suck off Jesus,

        “BUT NOT IN A GAY WAY!” [/imitation of homophobic parents]

        Gosh, christians totally win the pretzel logic olympics when it comes to sex and sexuality.

        And that segue was a totally awkward contrivance to post this, which has been rattling around in my head all day:

        (Totally NSFW!)

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8ZF_R_j0OY

      • EmpiricalPierce

        Reminds me of the South Park episode where Cartman became a gospel singer. “I want to get down on my knees and start pleasing Jesus! I want to feel his salvation all over my face!”

      • SluttyMary

        Nobody told me sucking off Jesus was an option. Dude has great abs. Where can I sign up?

        • Bitter Lizard

          Right here.

          • Tainda

            That’s fake….right? RIGHT?

  • Bitter Lizard

    Whenever you call a religious person a “voice of reason”, you’ve evidently jinxed them to keep talking for long enough to disprove that notion.

    (Cue other atheists jumping in to lecture me about how jinxes aren’t real.)

    • islandbrewer

      Cue other atheists chiming in to say that jinxes aren’t real.

      • islandbrewer

        JINX!

        (Buy me a coke.)

        • busterggi

          Sadie?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Still, Tempting Fate is not a good idea.

  • guest

    Tennessee…….

  • Brian Westley

    Sounds like that school is breaking the law by having prayers before football games:

    …“Like in Westmoreland, they can no longer pray before their football games,” said Carman. “They do a moment of silence instead of praying. And that was just as of the year before last. And it was a big stink over there. Coaches cannot pray with their teams anymore. The students can pray, but coaches cannot even stand in the prayer group.

    “We are very very very blessed here, that we can still pray before the games.

  • sam

    “We are very very very blessed here, that we can still pray before the games. And students were asking me about the Gay Straight Alliance group, and they were upset about it. I’m like, ‘we have to love these people, you know. I think it’s wrong, but we’ve got to love them and pray for them, and ask the lord to save them.’ So we had a good discussion about it with people in my youth group last night.”
    I couldn’t understand this quote until I read it in the voice of David Cross impersonating a gay southern man, and then it made sense to me.

  • TnkAgn

    Another case of confusion, as Macon County parents mistake the loss of Christian privilege with persecution. And now that the cat is out of the “Pre-game Prayer” bag there, they should be constitutionally dinged by that as well: http://www.civilrights.org/monitor/vol11_no4/art2p1.html

  • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    “If we can’t push our bigotry on everyone, that’s discrimination!”

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Dear Camille,

    I believe that the “friendly atheist” blog would be much more worthy to own this name if it began to recognize there are many progressive Christians out there who completely oppose this fag-hating bigotry.

    For example I gave a theological (sic) argument as to why life-long commited homosexual relationships should not be regarded as sinful by anyone:

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/on-the-sinfulness-of-homsexuality-von-der-sundigkeit-der-homosexualitat-deutschunten/

    And if you search through the blog of Rachel Held Evans (who has just published something on that topic), Randal Rauser, James McGrath, the Naked Pastor, and many other folks, you will find that many liberal and progressive Christians like myself are utterly unwilling to tolerate the detrimental effects that fundamentalism has both on the individual and on society.

    We believe first and foremost on God’s absolute goodness and this leads us to speak out against religious injustices.
    You’re entirely free to view our faith as being deluded, but please notice in the future the fact we do oppose all this homophobic bigotry.

    I don’t intend this as an attack against this blog but as a constructive criticism aiming at bringing up more objectivity and mutual understanding.

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Progressive Christians are quite frequently talked about on this blog, including Rachel Held Evans, who, if I recall correctly, was the subject of an article yesterday.

      As long you progressive Christians allow those other Christians whose attitudes you detest to dominate the public conversation, you are going to find yourselves sidelined. And you are, perhaps unintentionally, blaming the VICTIMS for that sidelining.

      Christians quite frequently criticize the blog for its title, failing to recognize the actual meaning owing to a lack of familiarity with it. Usually, it turns out to be a case of confirmation bias aimed at generating a sense of persecution.

      • Erik Wise

        “And you are, perhaps unintentionally, blaming the VICTIMS for that sidelining.”

        Yep. You nailed it. Lothar even used the phrase “fag-baiting.” Smarmy git.

    • Erik Wise

      Us LGBT people will stop talking about religious bigotry when religious bigotry is no longer used to justify discrimination in public policy. Which it has and still does, depending on where you live in the world. Christianity, and many of the world’s other religions, have been a destructive force against LGBT people. Until then ends, we won’t stop calling it out.

      According to your logic, you want us silent. Because being silent is being “friendly.” Yeah. Right. Eff that.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Since you’re addressing this to Camille, it’s pretty obvious you aren’t very familiar with this blog. Before judging it, try reading around a bit. You may still feel it’s ‘Unfriendly’ but at least your opinion will be better informed.

    • islandbrewer

      So, exactly how should Camille, in your view, report on this news story in a way that “recognize[d] there are many progressive Christians out there who completely oppose this fag-hating bigotry”?

      By constantly offering an apologetic “But not all Christians think that way!”? I think anyone reading this would assume clearly that. And profusely bowing and scraping to the “other” christians kind of smacks of a Stedmanesque accommodationism.

    • baal

      Dear Lothar,

      If you want to appear more friendly and worth of being paid positive attention, you’d not use “fag hating” even to describe “those people”.

      Baal – Spawn of Cthulhu

      • Erik Wise

        Whiny faux-liberal Christian baloney is what Lothar is spewing. Blech! :P

    • Bitter Lizard

      I haven’t seen anyone on this blog deny the existence of Christians who support gay rights. So who’s misrepresenting who, Lorraine?

      I never see you liberal Christians get more vocal about gay rights than when you perceive that you’re being made to look bad yourselves. Even the “Not All Like That” campaign seems to be more about PR for Christians than rights for gay people (this seems clear both from the name, which is all about you, and from the fact that this campaign miraculously started right after gay rights became a majority-supported issue). And when atheists call out homophobic Christians for their homophobia, are you going to bug the Christians for being homophobic? Nope. You’re here, crawling up our asses for criticizing them. Real great gay ally, you.

    • Amor DeCosmos

      If “there are many progressive Christians out there”, then why is it that the atheists are the ones calling out the bigots? Where are these “Progressive Christians”™ ? You’d think that the Progressive Christians would have more at stake in denouncing idiots than atheists, what with their supernatural beliefs being hijacked by Retro Christians.

      Why don’t these so called Progressive Christians start up a website where the Retro Christians are incessantly ridiculed and their crazy, hateful beliefs can be analyzed…?

      Until then… I’ll be here at the Friendly Atheist, trying to do my bit to learn about and point out the hypocrisy and inherent evil of all religions…

    • katiehippie

      Blog promotion!!!!!!!! No real content!

    • UWIR

      “For example I gave a theological (sic) argument”
      I am curious as to what you think “sic” means. And IDiot Randal Rauser counts as “progressive”?

    • TheG

      Unfortunately, as long as the homophobic, hate-filled Christians are in the majority, it is just statistically safe to speak the way Camille does. Smart readers will know it doesn’t mean ALL Christians. When there are far more liberal Christians than bigoted ones, the ones you are trying to separate yourself from will no longer be important. ETA: Because it will no longer be likely to be true.

    • Nancy Shrew

      Nobody cares.

  • Tainda

    “We have to love these people” because our POS sky fairy tells us to not because they’re, ya know, human beings or anything.

    Pieces of shit

  • TnkAgn

    As a teacher in a semi-rural high school, I witnessed discrimination against the formation of a GSA. The “Activities Principal” was a huge jock, who refused to sanction the group, even though they had arranged as sponsor, a gay teacher in the school. This principal had to relent after word came down from district, which had recently incorporated language to the effect that no discrimination against students based on “sexual orientation” was allowed. I do not know whether any religious beliefs of the principal were a factor. But certainly an anti-gay bigotry was.

  • Stev84

    Christians rarely know what love really means. For them it’s just a buzzword robbed of all meaning.

    • Helepolis

      Rarely, you mean?

      • Stev84

        Already fixed it :p

    • observer

      I’ve always imagined extremists having virtues like love and moral, and putting them in display cases to show off that they have them, rather then actually take any effort to use them.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    “The FCA is a very neat opportunity that the Lord’s given us.”

    Looking forward to the GSA alliance forming. Will it be a cool opportunity that the Lord has given them? Or maybe just a gift of somepony.

    • monyNH

      Somepony, FTW!

      -From the mom of a Brony :)

  • BeyondRedemption

    Christian Clubs not getting the treatment they deserve???? Ok, let’s throw bags of excrement at them!

  • lawrence090469

    Oh noes. We can’t pray before the foosball game. Curse you atheists. Actually I’m not sure how I could prevent someone from praying even if I wanted to. Unless the NSA has some quantum interference helmet that can stop you from having certain thoughts. Ha! Don’t get any ideas Mr. Spook Man. But of course for these people prayer is a communal thing that involves the moving of the hands and the lips. The more, the better. More Charismatic equals more authentic. Hence all the nice Episcopalians and their self deprecating “we’re such stuffy white people” jokes. But they all have to always be praying. Even when I was one of them I used to wonder at the apparently self conscious need for continual reindoctrination. Like everyone’s faith was so brittle it could shatter at any time. I have begun to suspect there is also a tribalist element at work, a need to pledge group solidarity. Unfortunately it would not help trying to find harmless ways for them to do this. Compelling others to submit to their tribe is a feature, not a bug.

    • Stev84

      For them prayer isn’t about telepathically sending messages to their god. It’s about making a show out of it and demonstrating everyone else how holy and pious they are. Exactly what the Bible says not to do.

      • Crazy Russian

        Who cares what that pesky Bible actually says. They have a direct line to Gawd.

  • Itarion

    To be fair, it could be worse. “I think it’s wrong, and so we should band together and kill all of the pervy kids.”
    So, while the progress is insufficient, it is, at least, progress.

  • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

    I don’t understand the problem with this guy. Certainly he’s uniformed about church/state separation as far as the sports games are concerned, but isn’t his viewpoint regarding the GSA exactly what we want?

    The guy’s a Christian so he has his beliefs. I don’t understand those beliefs but, so long as they don’t interfere with anyone else’s life, I’m not going to begrudge his having them. He said in his own group (which is based on his worldview) that “I think it’s wrong” when talking about homosexuality but also expressed that he understands that any other group needs to be treated fairly, allowed to congregate and allowed to express themselves. How is this a problem?

    This is exactly what we want – people who may hold strong views but who understand that other viewpoints can be expressed, discussed and given equal treatment. So what if the guy is wrong? He’s allowed to be wrong and he’s allowed to say stupid things to other people who are wrong in his little groups. It seems petty to attack him because he said that he thinks Christian things to other Christians in a Christian group.

    • CARMEL350

      !00% CORRECT!

  • http://shitmytoiletsays.blogspot.com/ Crud O’Matic

    Technically, EVERY inconvenience is a perfect time to blame the gays. Because it hurts too much to look into the mirror in search of your problems.

  • Deepsix

    I was just at this school last month. Luckily, no prayer before the cross country meet. Buncha heathen runners!

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Principle Meador, quoted in the Macon County Times piece:

    “We just try to do the same thing for every club that wants to be formed; sometimes the kids find a sponsor and sometimes they don’t. And of course I never require anyone to sponsor anything. That’s a choice that they make.”

    I’m not a lawyer, but I had the impression that case law implications of the Equal Access Act (20 USC § 4071) effectively meant that if a student group cannot find a volunteer adviser, either the administration must draft someone (say, if the insurance company insists an adult is necessary to supervise meetings for liability coverage), or the policy must be changed to not require a faculty adviser (if all potential draftees say the content of the speech at the meeting is contrary to their beliefs), or else the forum must be closed with all currently existing groups prohibited from further use of the school for meetings. Otherwise, it constitutes unlawful discrimination on viewpoint in a limited public forum.

    I wonder if it would be possible to seek (or for lawyers to write a letter, stating intention to seek) a summary injunction requiring the third option pro tem until such time as the school certifies to the court that it is taking one of the other two permissible approaches. Probably impolitic to do so, even if possible.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I don’t recall the exact case law, but you are essentially correct. Hemant covers it in his Young Atheist’s Survival Guide. No willing sponsor is not an excuse for the school to now allow the group.

  • ignoranceisbliss

    Look at these comments. These comments breed as much hate as the outspoken Christians.


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