Grace Christian School in Valrico, Florida will no longer accept or accommodate students who identify with the LGBTQ community. The private pre-kindergarten through grade 12 school is about 20 miles east of Tampa. Barry McKeen, an administrator at the school, sent out a letter on the topic ahead of the new school year.
Some parents were surprised after receiving the email with the subject line that read, “Important School Policy Point of Emphasis. … Please Read.” The email noted that students would be addressed by the “gender on their birth certificates.” NBC News obtained a copy of the email which read, “We believe that God created mankind in His image: male (man) and female (woman), sexually different but with equal dignity.”
One mother, whose lesbian daughter was a student, spoke to local Florida news station WESH 2 about why she chose to remove her child from the school after the email was sent. “I actually respect their opinion, but my daughter’s well-being, right, and mental health is more important,” she said.
Grace Christian’s official statement added, “Therefore, one’s biological sex must be affirmed and no attempts should be made to physically change, alter, or disagree with one’s biological gender — including, but not limited to, elective sex reassignment, transvestite, transgender, or non-binary gender fluid acts of conduct (Genesis 1:26-28). Students in school will be referred to by the gender on their birth certificate and be referenced in name in the same fashion.”
It continued: “We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgender identity/lifestyle, self-identification, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography are sinful in the sight of God and the church (Genesis 2:24; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:26-29; I Corinthians 5:1; I Corinthians 6:9; I Thessalonians 4:2-7).”
The email ended by saying that any student found participating in the LGBTQ lifestyle “will be asked to leave the school immediately.” Parents were asked to “agree to all policies and procedures before [their] student [could] start school in August.”
After the school’s email went viral, McKeen made a video response titled “Administration’s response to the NBC article” and posted it to Grace Christian’s official Facebook account. In the video, he mentioned the school “just started its 49th year” and said he believed the reporter was “against” the school’s beliefs. He defended the school’s policy and added that young heterosexual students should not engage in sexual activities as well. McKeen explained that “God has spoken” and their policy is not new.