Last week, we were made aware of a new program given by Briarcrest Christian School for parents, instructing parents to condemn their kids for being LGBTQ+. While Briarcrest’s bigotry and harmful culture has long been public, this new curriculum was a saddening reminder. With so much to celebrate about our advancements, this new information was a reminder of the significant portions of Shelby County and surrounding areas where it is unsafe for LGBTQ+ youth and families.
Briarcrest’s Code of Conduct states that LGBTQ+ students will be expelled should their identity be discovered, and students are also subject to discipline if their parents support them in any way. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this repugnant approach to youth education. We call on the administration of Briarcrest to open their eyes and acknowledge the harm they are inflicting. We call on the parents there to advocate for their children and peers by demanding changes or removing their kids from the school.
In the last year, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide. Those numbers go up significantly if youth are in hostile school environments. Parents who reject their children, many of whom kick their children out when they are still minors, knowingly put their own kids at risk for homelessness, suicide, and other kinds of mental health issues and harm.
How can these adults sit with themselves when they knowingly expose their kids to harm? These policies are a damaging betrayal of the trust parents put into schools. We may not understand the “why,” but we were certainly reminded of the “how” this week.
Our message today is simple: to the students at Briarcrest who are closeted, curious, or seeking to be allies, you are already loved and welcome at OUTMemphis and in so many other places. While you may feel alone, while you may feel that the adults in your life have abandoned you and hate you, there are always allies closer than you expect.
If you are looking for help, please call us at 901-278-6422.
If you are considering suicide or believe that you could be at risk for self-harm, please call the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678; or the Memphis Crisis Center line at 901-274-7477.
If you are looking for legal information on school discrimination, you can find information at ACLU.org. You can find a 2019 Report on hate incidents in schools from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Molly Rose Quinn,