SAVE THE DATE! ONA will host our 2nd Annual ONA Celebration Sunday on March 27. You will not want to miss it! We are excited to welcome jamele adams, Director of Equity and Inclusion for the Scituate Public Schools, to be the featured speaker at this service. In addition, we will acknowledge Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31) and celebrate FTCC's commitment to being welcoming to all. Please see the following link for more information on jamele adams and plan to join us for this special service.
The ONA Task Force is also hard at work establishing an Open and Affirming Lending Library at FTCC. This library will include titles that range from picture books, to non-fiction/fiction books, to works by LGBTQ authors. There will be something for everyone! Our goal is to provide education about LGBTQ issues and to celebrate the LGBTQ community. Initially this library will be located in the porch. We will be working towards moving our library outside into a "Free Little Library" structure in the coming months so we can share this information with our greater community. Stay tuned for a book wish list if you would like to support this important outreach activity!
The ONA Task Force's mission is to educate the FTCC congregation about LGBTQ issues and widen our overall perspective. There are many terms and labels that are unfamiliar, and we view it as our job to illuminate the issues and topics that affect the LGBTQ community. February is a month when the LGBTQ community acknowledges those who are Aromantic with Aromantic Awareness Week the week following Valentine's day. An aromantic is someone who does not experience romantic attraction. Where romantic people have an emotional need to be with another person in a romantic relationship, aromantics are often satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic relationships. Aromantics may feel sexual attraction or be on the asexuality spectrum. Being aromantic does not determine sexuality but can impact a person's ability to act on their sexuality.
More people are familiar with the term asexual than aromantic. They’re similar but not the same. Aromanticism has to do with romantic attraction, and asexuality has to do with sexual attraction. Romantic orientation and sexual orientation are two different concepts. Being aromantic does not mean that one is unable to experience sexual attraction. An aromantic individual can have any sexual orientation. They may identify with a sexual orientation in addition to the label of aromantic to specify who they're interested in sexually, if anyone. An aromantic person’s sexual orientation doesn’t make them less or more of a valid member of the aromantic community.
There are many myths and misconceptions about people who identify as aromantic. People who are aromantic can still have intense, loving feelings, they’re just not romantic in nature. They can form emotional and personal connections, and they can provide and benefit from empathetic support. Aromantic people aren’t emotionless and romantic attraction isn’t related to your personality traits. Aromantic people can find joy in their relationships and feel excitement and happiness about other people’s romantic pursuits.
If you have a friend or loved one who is aromantic, there are things that you can do to be a supportive friend and ally:
Adapted from the following resources:
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people, ages 13-24. The following is an excerpt of take home information from their 2021 survey of LGBTQ+ youth. This is a particularly vulnerable group and we want to highlight some of the issues faced by LGBTQ+ youth in the US so we can all be more aware and better allies. For more information about the Trevor Project or to see the full survey results, check out their website at: www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/?section=Introduction
The past year has been incredibly difficult for so many, but we also know that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth have faced unique challenges. The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health sheds light on many of these challenges by capturing the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13–24 across the United States.
Our third annual survey provides brand new data on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health care disparities, discrimination, food insecurity, conversion therapy, and suicide — in addition to the benefits of LGBTQ-affirming spaces and respecting the pronouns of transgender and nonbinary youth.
We are also proud that this sample is our most diverse yet, with 45% being LGBTQ youth of color and 38% being transgender or nonbinary.
Among some of the key findings of the survey:
42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health.
More than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful — and only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth found their home to be LGBTQ-affirming.
70% of LGBTQ youth stated that their mental health was "poor" most of the time or always during COVID-19. 48% of LGBTQ youth reported they wanted counseling from a mental health professional but were unable to receive it in the past year.
75% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime.
Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all of the people they lived with attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected by anyone with whom they lived. Transgender and nonbinary youth who were able to change their name and/or gender marker on legal documents, such as driver’s licenses and birth certificates, reported lower rates of attempting suicide.
Over the next year, The Trevor Project will release new data from this national survey sample in the form of monthly research briefs and quarterly reports related to LGBTQ youth mental health and suicide prevention. Through our research, education, advocacy, and direct services, we strive to amplify the experiences of LGBTQ youth and to facilitate the implementation of comprehensive, intersectional policy solutions.
And as always, we will continue to do all we can to remind LGBTQ youth that they deserve love and support and the ability to live their lives without fear, discrimination, and violence. If you are an LGBTQ young person, please know that you are never alone and The Trevor Project is here to support you 24/7.
The Trevor Project hotline: 1-866-488-7386
How to “Ally” for the Holidays
by Jean-Marie Navetta
With just about two weeks until Thanksgiving, people are gearing up for holiday cooking, shopping, and, of course, visits with family. And while the “visits with family” can create anxiety for many people, for our LGBTQ friends and family, the anxiety jump is often significant. Whether people are not yet out, out but not accepted by family or friends, or concerned about how family may react to meeting a partner or spouse, the “what if” scenario can be stressful.
And while there are countless great articles about how LGBTQ+ people can better handle holiday stress and conflict, there isn’t a lot out there about how allies can be part of creating a supportive and inclusive space for their friends at this time of year.
As the largest ally organization in the U.S., we've got some great tips to try out and share for being a great ally to your LGBTQ+ friends at the holidays!
Listen to your friends. Seems obvious, right? But listening – without commenting right away – is a big skill to learn. Often, LGBTQ people who are experiencing anxiety about holiday visits just need someone who will listen to how they’re feeling, center their LGBTQ+ friends' needs, and not minimize those experiences (e.g., “It can’t be that bad, can it?”). Close your mouth, open your ears, and take it all in.
When people are ready to talk, help them focus on the present. When anyone has a bad experience, it’s natural to go back to that time and expect that it will determine what will happen in the future. This can sometimes cause what's called a "self-fulfilling prophecy" - meaning, by trying to avoid something that happened in the past we end up creating the exact situation we're hoping to avoid. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, people change. Situations are different. Try to help your LGBTQ+ friend look at how they can prepare themselves for this experience, and not dwell exclusively in the past.
Remind people to take care of themselves. Pulling away from friends, not eating well, or even self-medicating are all common responses when people are under stress. Check in to find out how they’re doing, ask about what they’ve been up to, and if you’re seeing the signs that someone is not caring for themselves, make some suggestions about how they can. Even better, offer to be part of their self-care plans. ("Want to go to the gym with me?" "How about coming over for a good healthy dinner?").
Be willing to serve as the ally-on-call. Before your LGBTQ+ loved one heads out for the holidays, remind them that you’re there and happy to talk/text/IM if they need you. Letting people know that it’s ok to ask for help is important.
Extend an invitation. Some LGBTQ+ people don’t have an option to be with their families of origin, but you can be part of their chosen family. Ask them to join you for holiday celebrations. And when they attend, don’t make their personal story (e.g., “Janet is here because her family threw her out.”) part of what you share with other guests. They’re just a friend who is coming over to share a holiday meal.
Change the way you ask questions. Rather than asking LGBTQ" friends if they’re going home for the holidays, or spending the holidays with family – which may make them feel forced to explain tough situations – ask open-ended questions like, “So do you have any plans for the holidays?”
Looking for more ways to demonstrate your allyship year-round? Don’t forget to check out straightforequality.org for additional ideas and resources.
For resources on how to better cope with the holidays as a member of the LGBTQ community:
Happy Fall! The ONA group jumped into fall on October 6th with our first
meeting of the season. It was great getting to meet IN PERSON! We had a
brief recap of last season's activities, and discussed our goals for this
coming year. Dana shared a very moving video from the "Tell a Stranger"
series; the series is available on YouTube, by following this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TmqytFxsVY This video was an important
reminder of how challenging many of the coming out journeys can be, and how
critical ally support can be. Harbor United Methodist Church holds monthly
PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meetings; the next one is
10/27 at 7:00 p.m. at HUMC. A member of our ONA team will attend. To that
end, we discussed creating a mission statement for our team, incorporating
FTCC's ONA covenant. Further discussion centered around the continued
presence of the challenges of inclusion and equality in local schools and
social media. We brainstormed ideas for not only addressing these issues,
but also specific ways that we, as a church, can create a "safe space" for
marginalized members of the LGBTQ community Some of the suggestions were to
connect with Scituate's Director of DEI, Jamele Adams, as well as providing
a resource library, including books, videos, and links to helpful websites.
The group agreed on the importance of creating a well-advertised connection
between FTCC and the community; creating a Little Library outside of the
church is an idea about which we were all very excited.
ONA has been consistently trying to provide books, videos, and materials to
educate, inform and guide us. Emily S. recommends "A Bigger Table: Building
Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community," by Pastor John
Pavlovitz. It is a beautiful, mindful work that reminds us all that, if we
are truly and authentically inclusive, we are going to need a much bigger
table! As Pavlovitz observes, "I can't fathom the transformation of a
basket of food to accommodate a multitude (heck, I'm not even sure how our
toaster works), but I can see the boundless compassion of the open table
and endeavor to re-create that on whatever spot I stand at any given moment
and with the people in my midst."
Happy Pride month! Pride month takes place every June, to celebrate gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and asexual people, plus all other sexual orientations and genders. It is an opportunity to commemorate the events and activists that have benefitted the LGBTQ+ community, and reflect on the progress that has been made towards inclusion and equality. As an Open and Affirming church, Pride month is a wonderful opportunity to make our support of the LGBTQ+ community known in a visible way.
This year the ONA Task Force has put together an installation of the "God's Doors" Project. Started originally at Westfield Church in Connecticut, the movement has spread nationally to churches looking to show outward support. The doors project is "meant to be a visible
reminder of God's love for all people the Church has closed doors to, but particularly the LGBTQ+ Community." (godsdoors.org). This colorful installation is intended to be a gift to the LGBTQ+ community, as well as an effort to "widen the welcome" and show God's love to all.
In additions to the doors, which will be on display all month, we will be flying the "Progress Flag" at the church. You have probably seen the traditional rainbow flag that symbolizes the LGBTQ+ community, but may not be aware that there is a meaning for each color.
· Red represents life
· Orange, healing
· Yellow, sunlight
· Green, nature
· Blue, peace and harmony
· Purple, spirit
The Progress flag adds to the traditional 6-color flag by adding the white, pink and light blue colors from the transgender flag, and the black and brown stripes that signify both people of color and those lost to AIDS.
So check out God's Doors on display out front of FTCC this month and join us in celebrating our LGBTQ+ community members. This is a great time to celebrate and recommit ourselves to making FTCC a place where all people feel they can belong. Take a look at www.scituatepride.com/pride-events2021 for a calendar of events offered by Scituate Pride in celebration of Pride month. Not to be missed is the always informative Straight Talk series via Zoom on June 10, and other speakers and events that will help you join in on the celebration!
10 Things Allies Can Do
We need to think about how we can best support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community as allies. Before we discuss what allies can do, it is helpful to define what an ally is. An “ally” is defined as someone who supports a group that is commonly the subject of discrimination or prejudice, but who is not a member of that group. More specifically in LGBTQ+ terms, an ally is a straight/
heterosexual and cisgender person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ social movements, challenging homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
An ally uses their position of privilege in a majority group to support the LGBTQ+ community and advocate for equality. Below is a list of things you can do to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community in Scituate and beyond:
1. LISTEN Listen to what people in the LGBTQ+ community are saying. It’s not about you, your feelings, or opinions— it’s about theirs. If someone trusts you enough to come out to you, listen to how they are feeling and consider what they are going through, instead of focusing on how their honesty makes YOU feel.
2. GET EDUCATED It is not up to the LGBTQ+ community to educate you. Seek out books, articles, and social media that can educate you on LGBTQ+ issues. Questions are okay most of the time, but recognize when you need to do the work yourself. If being supportive matters to you, then you can make an effort to learn more on your own.
3. GET INVOLVED Join local groups that are working for social justice for the LGBTQ+ community. Subscribe to email lists and follow them on social media so you are aware of current issues and how you can be involved in the answer. Scituate Pride is one local organization that is actively supporting the LGBTQ+ community (www.scituatepride.com) and the UCC Open and Affirming Coalition is another organization addressing LGBTQ+ issues and helping churches become Open and Affirming (ONA) (www.openandaffirming.org).
4. SHOW UP When there are events that support or educate about LGBTQ+ issues, or you are invited to an event by an LGBTQ+ member, show up and give your support. These events are an important way to support the efforts of the LGBTQ+ community and show others that LGBTQ+ issues matter to you.
5. SPEAK UP When a friend, family member, or stranger says something hateful or ignorant, call them out on it. Silence allows oppression to continue. Speak in support of the LGBTQ+ community, but don’t speak over them. Transfer the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it, and let their voice be the one heard.
6. INTERVENE When someone is being targeted, either physically or verbally, intervene only with their permission. Focus on supporting them rather than engaging the aggressor. Be prepared to stand with them, but only if that is what they want.
7. WELCOME DISCOMFORT When you encounter something that makes you uncomfortable, don't dismiss it. Sit with it, and ask yourself 'why?' and welcome it as an opportunity to grow.
8. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES You will make mistakes. When someone calls you out, do not get defensive. Listen, apologize and change your behavior going forward. Learn how to accept criticism with grace, even if it’s uncomfortable. A good response is always "Thanks for letting me know." There is no room here for embarrassment or ego.
9. STAY ENGAGED Even when the work gets difficult, stay engaged. Oppression is constant, and marginalized people do not get the privilege of "turning off." Marginalized communities are those who are targeted by oppression, including but not limited to people of color, Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, women and people with disabilities.
10. DONATE Commit to financially support a local organization doing LGBTQ+ social justice work in the community. If you are interested in making a donation for Pride month, you might consider either Scituate Pride or the UCC ONA Coalition as previously mentioned, or the Trevor Project, which is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ young people under 25 (www.thetrevorproject.org).
Adapted from "10 Things Allies Can Do" by the YWCA, with information from the following resources: The Guide to Allyship (www.guidetoallyship.com), How to be an LGBTQ Ally (www.nextavenue.org), Being an Ally 101 (www.theodysseyonline.com), and 6 Ways to Respectfully be a Better LGBTQ Ally (www.oprahdaily.com).
We, the people of First Trinitarian Congregational Church, UCC, of Scituate, declare ourselves to be Open and Affirming. With God’s grace, we seek to be a congregation that includes all persons, embracing differences of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, age, mental and physical ability, as well as racial, ethnic, and socio-economic background. We invite all to share in the full life and ministry of our church, including: worship, sacraments, rites, covenants, fellowship, leadership, employment, commitments, blessings and joy. Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.