Here at Starr King, we are committed to building a beloved, inclusive community; we believe we teach best by who we are. Although it requires hard work and ongoing self-examination on all our parts, we have taken actions to create a warm and welcoming environment for all our students. That is why last week’s declaration by the Trump administration is so hateful and appalling. The administration’s directive withdraws protections for transgender students in public schools, barring them from using bathrooms and other school facilities corresponding with their gender identity.
We are a private institution, and not bound by this directive. That does not make it any less disturbing, for it contributes to the climate of hate and fear of transgender people already rampant in so many parts of this country. Even more important for us here at the school, this directive violates our religious commitment to justice, equity and compassion for every human being. We work to live out that religious commitment within the school in the most basic ways: having gender-neutral bathrooms on site, uplifting the perspectives and work of our gender nonconforming colleagues, and holding regular trainings for staff, faculty, and students on complex issues of oppression against transgender people, specifically reflecting on concerns of transgender women of color.
We who are progressive people of faith should be clear: the next few years will pose a challenge to every aspect of our religious life. We will have to meet that challenge directly, for our faith and our common future depend upon it. We must be vigilant in defending the rights of our gender nonconforming siblings, and so I want to emphasize this: you are welcome here at Starr King. We must be just as vigilant in the defense of other people being marginalized in these times, including our Muslim, immigrant, indigenous, disabled, and people of color communities. Please know that our doors, as well as our hearts, remain open to all as we reaffirm our commitment to counter oppressive theological education for the sake of human flourishing, in the service of the holy.