New online course: Transgender Inclusion in Congregations

Is your congregation ready to take your welcome to the next level?

Our movement has come a long way with regards to LGBTQ inclusion, but there’s a long way left to go. A recent survey of trans UUs found that only 28% feel that their current or most recent congregation is completely inclusive of them as trans people. The average UU congregation was recognized as a Welcoming Congregation in 2004, almost 15 years ago, and has not done any deep, intentional work since to challenge assumptions and unintentionally unwelcoming aspects of congregational life when it comes to the full diversity of LGBTQ communities.

My dear friend Rev. Mykal Slack and I, both of us trans faith leaders, have personal, painful experiences of this. I was raised within Unitarian Universalism, and yet I have never found a congregation where it felt like I could get my spiritual needs met. Mykal found Unitarian Universalism later in life and has similarly struggled to feel like there is a place within this religion for all of who he is.

So we are issuing an invitation to congregations that are serious about changing this narrative: we’ve released an online course that we hope congregations will engage with as whole communities: “Transgender Inclusion in Congregations.” This is not limited to “trans 101”—rather, it’s a comprehensive, six-session online course for individuals, groups, and congregational teams that are committed to transformation.

Each of the course’s six sessions includes a 45- to 60-minute pre-recorded lecture by me and Mykal, reflection questions, and resources that take the conversation deeper. In addition, we will be holding regular live video chats for all current or past course participants.

The course is offered on a sliding scale to both individuals and whole congregations. There are lots of ways that congregations can engage in it holistically and we encourage you to get in touch with us if you have any questions or want to strategize. Once a congregation purchases the course, all of its members get access to it for as long as we run it (which will likely be several years), so the course can be taken by multiple groups over time.

I hope you’ll join me and Mykal in working to transform the experience of trans people within Unitarian Universalism. In the process, I guarantee that all of us will be transformed. Find out more and sign up here.

In faith,
Zr. Alex Kapitan
Transforming Hearts Collective

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Living Our Values – Congregations Collaborate to Support LGBTQ Youth

Our five congregations in Westchester participated in the Prideworks for Youth Conference on March 14, 2018. Prideworks is an annual county-wide conference for about 500 LGBTQ youth and allies, and UU’s have been an important part of the conference in its almost two decades of existence, when it was called “Healing the Hurt.”

UU Youth, DRE’s and ministers have offered workshops, served on the board and planning committee, and volunteered in many ways. After the example of one of our youth groups, collections are held annually in all five congregations, ranging from a plate share to a youth group bake sale. Today, these congregations are the largest financial supporter of Prideworks.

Several years ago, the youth were greeted outside the conference by demonstrators who were holding the most hateful signs. Our UU’s in attendance vowed to be a more welcoming presence, and have ever since welcomed school buses with a Standing on the Side banner and cheering UU’s.

This year there was a total of 20 volunteers from all five congregations, workshops were offered by Rev. Michael Tino of Mount Kisco and Anthony Arrien of White Plains. Three congregations have members of the Planning Committee and DRE Tracy Breneman, serving Hastings on Hudson and Mount Kisco, is a member of the board and one of those primarily responsible for the success of this major initiative.

Most importantly, LGBTQ+ youth feel affirmed, connected and celebrated. Our UU values in action!

See the photos from the day below:

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Allegheny UU Church Holds Rally

Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church, PIttsburgh, PA, and the Delta Foundation held a “Hope Against Hate” rally at the church after a medical office on the North Side of Pittsburgh was defaced with a homophobic slur. Speakers included Dr. Stacy Lane of Central Outreach Wellness Center, Candi Castleberry Singleton of the Dignity & Respect Campaign, Pittsburgh Black Pride, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and Rev. David McFarland.

The event garnered quite a bit of press including several articles and videos that can be accessed online:

Rally held against defacement of LGBT-friendly banner on North Side

Determined to transform a “message of hate” to a “message of hope,” about 75 people attended a rally Sunday that involved signing their names and well-wishes on a North Side banner that had been vandalized Friday with words derogatory to the homosexual community.
From the post-gazette.com

‘Hope against Hate’ rally held at LGBT health care provider

From Channel 4, ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh

Defaced LGBT Sign Prompts Rally For Acceptance
The Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church is taking a stand against hate, while calling for diversity and acceptance.
From the local CBS affiliate.

Rally held after business sign defaced with LGBT hate speech

A rally was held Sunday after a North Side business sign was vandalized with LGBT hate speech on Friday. Dozens of people gathered to show their support after a sign at the Central Wellness Outreach Center’s was found with LGBT hate speech.
From WPXI in Pittsburgh

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