I first had to fully articulate (in writing anyway) and develop my position on gender names and pronouns as a middle school teacher in a parochial school. A student I adored and had been desperately trying to reach, had asked that I use new preferred pronouns.
Luckily, it was asked in an email rather than in person and gave me a bit of time to make sure I understood our school policy, see if my view aligned with it, and pray about my response. It was a welcomed and necessary reprieve.
Friends, whether you are a student, parent, or teacher, make sure you understand—LGBTQ issues have found their way into your private, Christian school. In fact, these issues have had no trouble finding their way into the bathrooms, locker rooms, lunchrooms, hallways, group chats, texts, emails…homeschools, etc.
You need to know that. The kids sure do. It’s as though culture completely disregards once sacred boundaries. Especially when no one is defending them.
I had long thought I knew what my position would be on such issues, which is an entirely different thing than knowing what your employer’s position is or what they see as the position of their employees. And those things are still an entire world away from being able to defend your position according to Scripture.
As a blogger with zero advertising, sponsors, or monetization for the last decade, my boldness had had no cost other than in audience numbers. Which in the realms of servant obedience and sovereign authority, is the exact same thing as no cost at all.
But that year, I was the Bible teacher. My personal opinion would matter, my public position would matter, and my ability to defend and walk out both in love would matter more than it ever had before.
At new teacher orientation that summer, LGBTQ issues were addressed only long enough to assert that these things were non-issues at this school, due to the application and interview process.
But I was a parent the year before, and I knew full well these were very real issues. As a parent, I had heard rumors, seen enough, or heard enough to have some questions. When those questions were raised as a parent, it was essentially “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If you talk about it and it becomes a distraction, it would be addressed. You know how subjective “becomes a distraction” is? Very.
But as a teacher, I now knew the faces behind the rumors. I loved the faces behind the anxiety, attention-seeking, shock and awe, and sincere struggles.
And I taught Bible. What a precious opportunity and season of influence I had been given.
We were far enough into the first semester that there was transparency and sincerity in my classroom. We could acknowledge the hard things in Scripture. We could acknowledge the crazy things they saw in the world. We could even acknowledge hard things at home. Progress was being made. Discipleship was happening.
And for the briefest minute, I feared the issue of pronouns was about to ruin it all.
I went to the employee handbook and the student handbook to see what exactly our policy was. Did I mention that all of this was complicated by the fact that my husband was on staff at the church that began this school? Yowza.
What I found was that this was an area they knew needed to be addressed and very much wanted to have a clear and Biblically consistent policy on…and what a great time for that…and the Bible teacher should definitely speak into that. Well dang. I was feeling more “take this cup from me,” and they were feeling more, “as long as you’re up…”
I didn’t want to be trusted with what to do. I wanted to be told what to do.
I wanted to throw up. I went home in tears. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for the student. I dreaded the possibility of hurting anyone, either through disappointment or dereliction of duty. I prayed the Lord would preserve everything and everyone.
I wanted the perfect combination of being true to my convictions without bearing the responsibility or weight of them. But I knew the conversation that must be had the next day.