VALRICO, Fla. — A private religious school in Florida told parents that LGBTQ children “will be asked to leave school immediately” and called gay people “sinners” in a June email.
In the June 6 email obtained by NBC News, Grace Christian School administrator Barry McKeen said LGBTQ people are “sinners in the eyes of God and the church” and that “the students who participate in these lifestyles will be asked to leave school immediately.” .”
He also compared LGBTQ “lifestyles” to “bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography” while citing Bible verses.
Additionally, the email said the school – located in Valrico, Florida, 20 miles east of Tampa – would only refer to students by “sex on their birth certificates.”
“We believe that God created mankind in his image: male (man) and female (woman), sexually different but with equal dignity,” McKeen wrote in the email, according to NBC News.
He added: “Therefore, her biological sex must be affirmed and no attempt should be made to physically change, alter or disagree with her biological sex – including but not limited to elective sex change. , transvestite, transgender, or nonbinary acts of gender-fluid conduct (Genesis 1:26-28).
The Los Angeles Blade could not independently confirm the contents of the email but have attempted to contact representatives for Grace Christian. The school did not return the request.
McKeen responded to the NBC News Facebook post, confirming that Grace Christian does not allow “gay or transgender” students because it is “rooted in scripture.”
“God has spoken about these issues, explicitly, aggressively, and we’ve had these policies in our school since day one in the early 1970s,” McKeen said. “It’s not new.”
McKeen also said the policy would remain.
“We are not a hateful group of people,” he said. “We don’t hate students who are particularly persuasive.”
NBC News also reported that the email played a role in the transfer of a 16-year-old student, who is gay, to a more accepting religious school. The outlet did not name the student or her mother, citing fear of harassment,
“It’s not like my daughter is wearing rainbow flags or anything like that,” the teen’s mother said. “But I’m not going to make her feel ashamed of herself for any reason.”
The student said she felt “normal” at the new school.
The NBC News reports come as heads of state call for and pass laws to limit the rights of LGBTQ youth. Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill went into effect on June 30, causing confusion as teachers cautiously wait to see how the law will be interpreted and enforced. Attorneys general from 16 states have filed suit against the law.
It’s also at least the second time this month that a religious school has been accused of shunning the LGBTQ community, according to NBC News. In Louisiana, a Christian school asked a same-sex couple to find a new school for their child because of “lifestyle choices”.