|Baptist pastor involved in LGBT persecution|
The Washington Post has a lengthy article on the legal battle being waged by and on behalf of Gavin Grimm, a 17 year old from Gloucester County, Virginia against the local school board and ultimately against the Christofascists who oppose any rights being granted to LGBT citizens. I will admit that it is difficult for me to not get passionate on the issue since the husband and I know Grimm and his mother, who have been to our home. While the piece doesn't fully identify the forces of "Christian" hate behind the agenda against Grimm, it does name one "godly" opponent, Ralph VanNess, a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church and a security guard at Gloucester High School. As regular readers know, in my view, religion, especially fundamentalist religion, is one of the greatest toxic evils in the world and is responsible for so many death and ruined lives over the centuries and today as well. Here are article highlights:
There was nothing remarkable about Gavin Grimm’s first trip to the boys’ bathroom at Gloucester High School. It was a little more than a month into his sophomore year, when the transgender teenager had begun quietly reintroducing himself to the student body as a boy.
Grimm had used men’s restrooms at restaurants, stores and the local amusement park, and using the boys’ bathroom at his school felt like “the natural progression of things,” he said. Just like cutting his hair short, just like wearing baggy pants and graphic T-shirts, just like beginning testosterone shots. He started using the boys’ bathroom shortly after he got word from Principal Nate Collins that it would be okay.
But that decision to use the boys’ bathroom one fall day in 2014 clashed with this town’s sensibilities and led to an acrimonious public debate. Now, Grimm’s case has made this quiet, out-of-the-way community in Virginia’s Tidewater region the unlikely center of the national debate over how public schools should accommodate transgender students. And the case has made Grimm, an introspective teen who once was painfully shy, the standard-bearer in the fight for transgender student rights. He approaches the role with a mixture of pride and apprehension.
“I’m afraid to function as myself in my community sometimes,” Grimm said.
Grimm’s parents said it seems that many people forget there’s a kid involved. “These people have no idea how they’ve hurt my child and how they continue to hurt my child,” said Deirdre Grimm, a nurse.
“We didn’t set out to do anything,” said David Grimm, a trades supervisor at a local shipyard. “Only thing we’ve done is try to protect our child. And that is what it means, and that takes whatever form it takes.”
[T]o some here, Grimm’s being transgender violates their basic sensibilities, some of which they say they draw from the Bible. They believe changing one’s gender is an affront to nature and to God.
“In my opinion, as a pastor, looking at this situation, I do not believe that God makes mistakes,” said Ralph VanNess, a security guard at the high school who is also the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. “God puts us on this Earth as who we are.”
VanNess, who leads a school Bible club, spoke at a school board meeting in favor of banning Grimm from the boys’ bathroom in 2014. “It was a responsibility I had before God,” he said.
Parents soon caught wind of what was happening; some phoned the school, demanding to know whether a transgender student was using the boys’ bathroom. Their concerns quickly gained steam publicly — they raised the specter of bathroom sex and rape and expressed fears that their sons would be uncomfortable in the bathrooms.
The school board took up the issue, and Grimm pleaded with them at an open meeting.
“I am just a human. I am just a boy,” he said. “Please consider my rights when you make your decision.”
The board voted to require students to use bathrooms that aligned with their “biological gender.”
Many Gloucester High School students start the day with a prayer group, and some once vocally criticized a lesson on evolution as contrary to biblical teaching. Many students object on religious grounds to Grimm’s use of the boys’ bathroom; they still see him as a girl.
VanNess and those like him embody the Christofascist embrace of ignorance and a desire to force their ignorant beliefs on all citizens. The motivation? To then feel good about themselves and to harm others to please what blogger friend Bob Felton would describe as their "imaginary invisible friend in the sky." Religion has no place in public schools or public policy - the bible club is one of the first things that needs to go to bring Gloucester County into the 21st century. It's a backwater and people like VanNess will keep it that way.