These parents publicly took a stand for LGBTQ rights. Now they say their kids' Christian school retaliated.
A Southern California husband and wife say that the church they’ve belonged to since childhood, as well as the affiliated school their elemntary-age kids attend, retaliated against them after they made a public stance supporting LGBTQ rights.
Jaymi and Josh, who chose not to share their surname or the name of the school in question for this story, citing legal threats, tell Yahoo Life that it all began when Josh made an Instagram post on Dec. 9.
In the post, Josh, who is a born-again Christian, affirms that he believes LGBTQ people are “made in the Image of God” and that they “can’t change who [they] are.”
“I STAND WITH YOU,” he wrote. “I stand with those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. You are family. I love you and affirm you and Jesus does not hate you but loves you; wholeheartedly for who you are. I am sorry for how I have hurt you. I am sorry for how the church has hurt you.” He also advises religious leaders to “pray first” before judging people: “Pray for me, sure, but I also ask that you truly ask God to soften your heart for His people, everyone.”
Josh's post didn’t sit well with their church and its school, which their two children, ages 5 and 7, attend, and where their other children, including teens they’ve fostered and two they’ve adopted, ages 16 and 17, have at one point attended.
As Jaymi explains to Yahoo Life, when parents enroll their children in the school they have to “sign a contract, a belief statement” stating that they “agree to uphold the school’s stance on traditional gender and sexuality, which is that there’s only two genders and that only a man and woman can get married.”
“When we first started sending our kids to the school, that's really what we had been raised to believe was the right way,” she says. “But over the past few years, I haven’t felt comfortable with that. And so, when we started publicly posting that we are affirming of the LGBTQ community, the school really just changed their viewpoint towards us. And the parents at the school started complaining that we were at the school.”
The parents' complaints reached a peak on Feb. 15 when, according to texts obtained by Yahoo Life, the school’s principal messaged Josh while he was at work, urgently requesting him to call them “in the next 10 minutes.” The couple and the principal ended up having a three-way call, during which they were informed that “parents had complaints” about their pro-LGBTQ stance, says Jaymi.
As a result, the school decided to disinvite Josh from a pre-planned museum field trip with their 7-year-old’s class, planned for the next day, which he was to chaperone. Furthermore, they were told that moving forward, they weren’t allowed at any school events where there would be children present — including “any future assemblies at the end of the year, any field trips, really nothing. We weren’t even allowed on campus.”
The news hit Jaymi and Josh hard, especially since they’d met at the church, which they’d attended since they were children — Jaymi since she was 4 and Josh since he was in the fourth grade — and which has now played an important role in the lives of all their children.
“These are parents that we’ve likely all grown up with,” she says. “We’ve likely gone to their weddings, our kids have likely been friends for many, many years. But now, all of a sudden that our theology has changed in this area, even though we are both still Christians, their whole viewpoint of us shifted.”
Jaymi and Josh, who used to be on staff at the church, say they’d been considering pulling their kids out of the school for some time now, beginning with an incident last fall, when their 7-year-old told them their teacher said during class that “a boy can’t marry a boy, and a girl can’t marry a girl.”
“We had a conversation with him [that day] and said, ‘Hey, buddy, like, factually, that's just not true because boys can legally marry boys and girls can marry girls. But some people don't think that's okay,” Jaymi says.
To prove her point, she showed her son a photo of a gay couple getting married. The next day, he innocently told his teacher about it, after which, Jaymi claims, the teacher "reprimanded" the couple for showing him the photo. “They had framed it as if we had shown our 7-year-old pornography or something that was completely awful,” she recalls. “That's when we knew we weren’t keeping them at the school.”
Jaymi, who came out to her family and friends in November as “queer,” using an umbrella term to express being not exclusively straight, says the incident triggered years of “religious trauma” she’d faced growing up in the church.
That's when she began posting affirmations about the LGBTQ community to her 26.5K Instagram followers. To support his wife, Josh started to routinely do the same on his own social media accounts. Over the course of those months, since the fall incident, complaints from parents grew and grew — until it reached its peak in February, when Josh was informed he was disinvited from the field trip.
Two weeks after being disinvited, Jaymi and Josh shared their story in a Feb. 26 TikTok video that has garnered more than 550K views and 7.5K comments.
“We were told that he couldn’t go [on the field trip] because parents complained about our public social media posts affirming the LGBTQ community,” Jaymi said in the video. “And so I said, ‘So our years of youth ministry and our career serving children now make us an inherent harm to kids?’ And they basically said yes, and ‘You are not welcome at any school event where there are kids present.’”
The couple pulled their sons out of the school nearly two weeks after the field trip incident. Later in the video, they say that on their kids’ last day, they sent the church a platter of rainbow cupcakes to celebrate. Or, as Josh puts it, to be “petty.”
“It was hard on my two boys, so I wanted them to leave with a celebration,” Josh tells Yahoo Life about sending the rainbow cupcakes. “I thought, what if we did cupcakes in a way to be petty, but also still kind of respectfully say, ‘We stand for this community and we're going to support this community.’ Why not send them cupcakes with rainbow flags on them? I thought they were very fitting.”
Since pulling their kids out of the school, Jaymi says they haven’t had any contact with members of the school, many of whom had been lifelong friends.
“That's been really sad and heartbreaking for our family, especially with me coming out and really losing our whole church community. One of the pastors even walked me down the aisle at my wedding,” she says. “I was in foster care myself as a kid. I started going to this church when I was 4 and they really became my family. They fostered me, they were the safety and belonging I really needed as a kid. And because of that, I repressed a lot of my identity because I had to fit in order to get that safety and belonging. But, through therapy and working through religious trauma, I've realized that both of us really have lost that whole church community."
The family has since found another church that’s been “extremely welcoming” to them. The boys are also “thriving” at their new school. But, Jaymi says, there’s still more healing to be done. Above all, she hopes their video can send a message to Christians that “being gay is not a sin.”
“Being queer and Christian, I think my main thing that has been so healing for me is knowing that those two words are not mutually exclusive: queer and Christian,” she says. “Because in the church community I was raised in, I was told if you're gay or lesbian or transgender or bisexual, that you're not a Christian, that you're going against the Bible. And I think that knowing and meeting other LGBTQ Christians, and being one myself where I know in my heart of hearts and in my soul that I believe in God, and that he has been there for me, and that he's such an active part of my life, and my faith is so important to me, and also knowing that I'm attracted to women, those things are not mutually exclusive.”
Adds Josh: “There is such beauty in the queer community, and I don't think it's represented and talked about enough. When I really dove into understanding and getting to hear people's stories, I realized how much love and beauty there really is.”
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