When a Christian church hosts a drag show for young people aged 12 to 18, you know American Christianity has come a long way. For instance, on May 21 in Florida, the Naples United Church of Christ will organize a “Youth Pride Conference.” The official flyer outlines the scheduled activities: breakfast and lunch, breakout sessions, panel discussion, keynote address given by Isaac Salazar with (LGBT Network) Zebra Coalition, and drag show.
The program is “an exploration of LGBTQ-related issues facing today's youth,” and the advertisement invites “youth ages 12-18.” Local schools were initially designated to be pick-up locations. According to Florida’s Voice’s original coverage, registrants must provide their pronouns and the names of the schools they attend. Also, complimentary shuttle services will be offered from Immokalee and Golden Gate Middle Schools. However, this inclusion caused controversy, with Florida's Voice reaching out to Collier County Schools on why transport is allowed directly from school property to an LGBTQ drag event.
After being informed of the organizer's plans to transport students off school grounds, the school district responded that Collier County public schools may not be utilized as “transit points for the pickup and drop-off of students for this event.” It contended, “The District was never informed nor contacted about this event. CCPS [Collier County Public Schools] is not a sponsor of the event, which is being held at a private facility. CCPS also neither authorized nor approved the transportation of CCPS students to and from district school sites by the event organizers. Any inference to the contrary is fully rejected by CCPS.”
In this regard, CCPS has spoken with the event's coordinator and informed them that the details on the registration form, along with any associated flyer, need to be corrected immediately to show CCPS is not participating as a co-sponsor, “nor will it permit its school facilities to serve as transportation points for student drop-off and pickup during the event.”
The page for sign-ups’ disclaimer states that it is important to acknowledge that this event is hosted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Collier, which isn't associated in any way with Naples United Church of Christ or Collier County Public Schools. GLSEN Collier is a nonprofit organization that works to create a safe and welcoming environment for marginalized students, especially those who are LGBTQ.
Concerning church involvement in general, Christian congregations are increasingly in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender cultures: “United Methodist Church Holds Drag Show to Protest Same-Sex-Marriage Ban,” “Church Hosts ‘Pride’ Drag Show,” “Lutheran Diocese Announces Church Itself Is Trans,” “Church Pastor Claims Jesus ‘Transgenders Himself’ in the Bible,” “Christian Divinity School Recites Prayer to the ‘Great Queer One' Who's a Drag Queen as well as ‘Trans Man',” “Christian Church Leads Prayer to the God of Pronouns, the ‘Great They/Them’ Who Breastfeeds.”
According to its website, Naples United embraces “social responsibility.” Naples UCC is a congregational church, meaning that participation and leadership are required of all members in order to accomplish the work of a church. As an active member of the United Church of Christ denomination, Naples United accepts the shared responsibility of being counted among one of the UCC churches that champion the social and personal responsibilities of carrying out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Church of God recently reacted to Governor Ron DeSantis's decision to sign the Parental Rights in Education bill by alleging that this latest “assault” has been a frightful experience for LGBTQ+ youth, who have already experienced victimization, such as harassment, bullying, and discrimination. According to it, the “Don't Say Gay” bill is a curriculum ban that excludes LGBTQ+ students, robbing LGBTQ+ youth of the chance to be seen as they are in the classroom and preventing their peers who are not LGBT+ from learning about LGBTQ+ communities. According to more than twenty years of research in collaboration with GLSEN, LGBTQ+ youth who attend schools with inclusive curriculums are more likely to have better GPAs as well as a stronger sense of belonging and have a higher likelihood of pursuing post-secondary education, as well as many other benefits that help promote longevity and well-being–at least according to the church.
The “progress” of the Christian church is similar to the current state of affairs in society and education.