By Aoife Barrington-Haber
As a Unitarian Universalist religious educator, my goal is to collaborate with our dedicated volunteer teachers and committee members to carry out a program that instills certain values in our children and youth that connect them to our UU faith. I hope that on a regular basis our kids are hearing these messages:
- We need to be able to think for ourselves.
- It’s ok to not know the answers, because we are all here to learn.
- It’s ok to be different. Every person is unique.
- Treat others the way they want to be treated, with respect and kindness.
- Your body belongs to you. Your body is good, beautiful, private and special.
- You are worthy of love. You deserve to feel safe.
- Bad things happen, but we can all help each other.
- We all make mistakes, but we can learn from them and forgive each other.
My heart breaks for the children in our midst who are transgender or gender nonconforming, who may have heard the recent statements from the White House repealing the federal protections for transgender students. Regardless of political arguments over federal vs. state legislation, it strikes a fearful chord in my heart to hear that the man in charge of our nation is not willing to stand up for the safety of our most vulnerable children.
I know many of us want FUSF to be a place where any person, young or old, can walk in and feel safe and welcomed, regardless of their sexuality or gender expression. But to accomplish this, we must be committed to doing the work, to engage in conversations, to be willing to open up to new ways of thinking and abandon old truths that no longer serve (ie, the myth of a gender binary). This work is not a series of boxes to be checked off, but a process of learning and educating each other, of evaluating and reevaluating the way we do things.
The RE Committee is dedicated to making FUSF a safe and welcoming place for gender nonconforming children and their families. We are looking for ways to collaborate on this ministry with committees, outside groups, and individuals, whether it is an adult education forum after service, or adding pronouns to our nametags at the welcoming table. In the meantime, if you or your child are in need of support, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I am ready to listen.
Yours with love,