I admit, hate reading Franklin Graham probably isn’t the healthiest thing I can do. I’m sure I could find a way to know more about what is going on in the evangelical world without turning to someone who displays so much disdain and fear of people who believe differently. But the truth is, he is a fairly accurate representation of how many conservative evangelicals view the world, as evidenced by the significant number of likes and shares that he receives on his posts.
Most of the time I just read, shake my head, and move on. But when there was a fear-laced post about the Boy Scouts allowing gay troop leaders in his feed, it was hard for me to click away. In it, he said, “This move is bending to LGBT activist groups and would put young, innocent boys at risk.” The obvious implication is that LGBTQ folks are sexual predators and to allow “them” access to our children is to make our children unsafe.
I was angry at the flipping of the script when it comes to who is and is not the perpetrator of violence. So far this year, 21 transgender people have been murdered. They have been shot, stabbed, and just a few days ago, run over by an SUV multiple times. One woman had been shot several times before, but chose not to report because there is an increased amount of police hostility toward those who report anti-LGBTQ violence.
As the mother of a trans child, I commented, reminding people that sexual orientation is not an indicator of proclivity toward pedophilia, and that LGBTQ people, particularly transgender women and gay men, are on the receiving end of a significant amount of violence. I commented that the ones at greatest risk was to the gay men volunteering their time to lead a scout troop.
The truth is, I’m afraid for my child. I am grateful that the administrators and teachers at his school are doing everything they can to keep him safe. I am grateful that he has friends who are incredibly supportive, and family that will stand by him no matter what. I am grateful that he is confident in who he is and is standing up for himself in situations where that could be uncomfortable.
But it doesn’t change that when I commented, the response was one of more fear and mistrust. I have been told that I am mutilating my child. I have been told that if I really love him, I would not support him, but instead exile him. I have had 1 Corinthians 5 quoted at me. I have had my salvation questioned. I have been asked to leave a church.
And I’m just the mom. I could keep my mouth shut and no one would be any the wiser. Just a straight, cis woman here, nothing to see.
My child, and the many like him, are not so lucky.
When people are up in arms because a store decided not to label Avengers sheets as “boy sheets” or Barbie dolls as “girl toys,” it puts my child at risk.
When churches preach about love and grace and then choose not to extend love and grace to LGBTQ people and their families, it puts my child at risk.
When warnings are issued to parents that an LGBTQ teacher or troop leader or Sunday School teacher is a danger, it puts my child at risk.
Franklin Graham may believe that he is making the world safer for children, but his words and actions actually make it less safe for my child, and the LGBTQ children of many other parents. And all of those children deserve much better than that.