The past several years have seen increased discrimination and violent attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community, from oppressive policies—with over one hundred anti-trans bills proposed nationally—to physical violence, including the fatal shooting in November of five people at Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In response, the Unitarian Universalist Association has become even more vocal in manifesting unequivocal support of LGBTQIA+ rights. Across a variety of media platforms, the UUA is emerging as a nationally recognized voice in the public square, including showing up for justice against equating gender-affirming care with child abuse. It has also increased resources for congregations working in this area and for LGBTQIA+ UUs, which encompasses hiring new staff and launching new programs.
The trans community has become a particular target of the culture wars. In a February 2022 statement, UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray expressed “pain and outrage” after the Texas governor urged the public and medical professionals to report parents of trans youth who receive gender-affirming care. “The full expression of the diversity of sexuality and gender is a gift,” Frederick-Gray said. She has unwaveringly voiced that anti-trans bills and rhetoric by politicians and public figures are directly connected to the increase in physical violence against the LGBTQIA+ community.
Last summer, as part of a faith coalition, the UUA filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs who oppose legislation in Alabama that makes it a felony—punishable by up to ten years in prison—to provide gender-affirming care for trans youth. The UUA’s legal action was reported in the Alabama Political Reporter,one of many instances this year in which the UUA’s support for LGBTQIA+ rights has been featured in the media.
“Trans rights are an issue of faith for Unitarian Universalists, and there are so many ways to get involved and make change.” – Adrian Ballou, LGBTQ and Gender Justice Programs coordinator
In response to the Club Q shooting, Frederick-Gray issued a statement underscoring that acts of violence against trans and other LGBTQIA+ people are not unrelated to anti-trans laws in Alabama, Texas, and Ohio. Her statement was featured in the local press on Fox 21 News in Colorado Springs. She has also appeared on national podcasts, been quoted in newspapers, and written op-eds that amplify support for LGBTQIA+ rights as a core value of the UU faith.
In addition to bearing public witness in new ways, the UUA is expanding its commitment to its public-facing ministry and programmatic efforts. Adrian Ballou, who holds the newly created position of LGBTQ and Gender Justice Programs coordinator at the UUA, says, “Trans rights are an issue of faith for Unitarian Universalists, and there are so many ways to get involved and make change.”
This work includes UPLIFT ministries, created by Rev. Michael Crumpler, the UUA’s LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs director, to highlight LGBTQIA+ issues. UPLIFT is a communications platform “Uplifting the LGBTQ+ Experience Within Unitarian Universalism and Beyond,” which encompasses both an organizing campaign—UPLIFT Action—under the auspices of Side With Love, and the UPLIFT Trans/Nonbinary Monthly Gathering Space.
UPLIFT ministries also launched the Five Practices of Welcome Renewal, an updated expansion of the UUA’s long-running Welcoming Congregations program, which is focused on shifting culture within congregations to be more inclusive by encouraging congregations to renew their Welcome annually.
To learn more and for resources visit uua.org/lgbtq/resources.