A Southern California husband and wife say the church they have belonged to since childhood, as well as the affiliate school their elementary school-aged children attend, retaliated against them after they publicly took a stand in support of LGBTQ rights.
Jaymi and Josh, who chose not to share their last name or the name of the school in question for this story, citing legal threats, tell Yahoo Life that it all started when Josh posted an Instagram post on Dec. 9.
In the post, Josh, who is a born-again Christian, affirms that he believes LGBTQ people are “made in the image of God” and that they “cannot change who [they] Are.”
“I STAND WITH YOU,” he wrote. “I stand with those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. You are family. I love you and affirm you and Jesus does not hate you but loves you; congratulations for who you are. I’m sorry how I hurt you. I’m sorry for the way the church hurt you.” He also advises religious leaders to “pray first” before judging people: “Pray for me, sure, but I also ask that you really ask God to soften your heart for His people, everyone.”
Josh’s position was not a good fit with their church and school, where their two children, ages 5 and 7, attend, and where their other children, including teens they raised and two they adopted, ages 16 and 17 being old. attended at some point.
As Jaymi explains to Yahoo Life, when parents enroll their children in school, they must “sign a contract, a statement of faith” that says they “agree to uphold the school’s position on traditional gender and sexuality, which is that there are only two genders and that only a man and a woman can be married.”
“When we first sent our kids to school, we really believed that was the right way to go,” she says. “But in recent years I have not felt comfortable with that. And so, when we started posting publicly that we affirm the LGBTQ community, the school basically just changed their opinion of us. And the parents at school started complaining that we were at school.”
The parents’ complaints peaked on Feb. 15 when, according to texts obtained by Yahoo Life, the school’s principal messaged Josh while he was at work, urging him to call them “in the next 10 minutes.” The couple and the principal eventually had a three-way meeting, during which they were told that “parents had complaints” about their pro-LGBTQ stance, says Jaymi.
As a result, the school decided not to invite Josh on a pre-planned museum field trip with their 7-year-old’s class, scheduled for the following day, which he was to chaperone. In addition, they were told that they would no longer be allowed to participate in future school events where children would be present – including “future end-of-year gatherings, field trips, really nothing. We weren’t even allowed on campus.”
The news hit Jaymi and Josh hard, especially since they had met at the church, which they had since attended she were children – Jaymi since she was 4 and Josh since he was in fourth grade – and who has now played an important role in the lives of all their children.
“These are parents we probably all grew up with,” she says. “We’ve probably been to their weddings, our kids have probably been friends for many, many years. But now that our theology has suddenly changed in this area, even though we are both still Christians, their whole view of us has changed.”
Jaymi and Josh, who used to be on the church staff, say they’ve been considering taking their kids out of school for some time, starting with an incident last fall when their 7-year-old told them their teacher said during the lesson that “a boy cannot marry a boy and a girl cannot marry a girl.”
“We’ve had a conversation with him [that day] and said, ‘Hey, buddy, actually that’s just not true, because guys can legally marry boys and girls can marry girls. But some people don’t think that’s okay,” says Jaymi.
To prove her point, she showed her son a picture of a gay couple getting married. The next day, he innocently told his teacher about it, after which, Jaymi claims, the teacher “rebuked” the couple for showing him the photo. “They framed it as if we showed our 7-year-old pornography or something that was utterly horrible,” she recalls. “That’s when we knew we weren’t keeping them in school.”
Jaymi, who came out to her family and friends in November as “queer,” using an umbrella term to indicate that she’s not exclusively straight, says the incident was the root of years of “religious trauma” that left her had to deal with growing up in the Church.
Then she started posting affirmations about the LGBTQ community to her 26.5K Instagram followers. To support his wife, Josh started doing the same routine on his own social media accounts. Over the course of those months, since the incident in the fall, the complaints from parents grew – until reaching a climax in February, when Josh was told he had not been invited to the field trip.
Two weeks after not being invited, Jaymi and Josh shared their story in a Feb. 26 TikTok video that has garnered more than 550,000 views and 7.5,000 comments.
“We were told he couldn’t go [on the field trip] because parents complained about our public social media posts affirming the LGBTQ community,” Jaymi said in the video. “And so I said, ‘So our years of Primary and our careers serving children now make us inherently harmful to children?’ And they actually said yes, and ‘You’re not welcome at a school event where children are present.’”
The couple took their sons out of school almost two weeks after the school trip incident. Later in the video, they say that on their children’s last day, they sent the church a bowl of rainbow cupcakes to celebrate. Or, as Josh puts it, to be “petty.”
“It was hard for my two boys, so I wanted them to leave with a celebration,” Josh tells Yahoo Life of sending the rainbow cupcakes. “I thought, what if we made cupcakes in a way of being petty, but still kind of respectfully saying, ‘We stand for this community and we’re going to support this community.’ Why don’t you send them cupcakes with rainbow flags on them, I thought they were very fitting.”
Since taking their children out of school, Jaymi says they have had no contact with members of the Church, many of whom were lifelong friends.
“That was very sad and heartbreaking for our family, especially with me coming out and really losing our entire church community. One of the pastors even walked me down the aisle at my wedding,” she says. “I was in a foster family myself as a child. I started going to this church when I was 4 and they really became my family. They fostered me, they were the security and connection I really needed as a child. And that’s why I hid a lot of my identity because I had to fit in to get that security and connection. But through therapy and working through religious trauma, I’ve realized that we’ve both really lost that whole church community.”
The family has since found another church that has been “exceedingly hospitable” to them. The boys also “bloom” at their new school. But, says Jaymi, there’s still more to heal. Most of all, she hopes their video can send a message to Christians that “being gay is not a sin.”
“Being queer and Christian, I think my main thing that’s been so healing for me is knowing that those two words aren’t mutually exclusive: queer and Christian,” she says. “Because in the church community I grew up in, I was told if you’re gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual, you’re not a Christian, you’re going against the Bible. And I think knowing and meeting other LGBTQ Christians, and being one myself that I know deep in my heart and soul that I believe in God, and that he’s been there for me, and that he’s so’ Being an active part of my life and my faith are so important to me, and also knowing that I am attracted to women, those things are not mutually exclusive.
Josh added: “There is such beauty in the queer community, and I don’t think it is represented and talked about enough. When I really dug into understanding and hearing people’s stories, I realized how much love and beauty there really is.
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