A Christian school in a low-income neighborhood in Kansas City has, for nearly a decade, quietly supported its LGBTQ students and staff by offering K-8 students tuition-free private education with “inclusive theology.”
Last winter, according to reporting by the Kansas City Star, executive director and co-founder of Urban Christian Academy Kalie Callaway-George felt it was time to go public with the school’s support.
“I think our community members felt safe within our walls, but we wanted them to feel publicly protected as well. Eventually, it felt like our silence was contributing to the hurt and pain our queer community members were experiencing,” she told the Star. “We deeply longed for all people to feel welcomed, loved and celebrated not just secretly within our walls but very explicitly to the public as well.”
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The school’s mission statement was updated on the website and within six months, Callaway-George says donations were down by 42%. By the end of 2022, funding plummeted to less than 20% of the previous year, when $334,000 was raised by December 2021.
According to the Star, all eight of the churches funding the school retracted their support, “citing a disagreement of values based on the inclusion of the LGBTQ community,” Callaway-George said.
In a newsletter obtained by the Star, the school’s officials said, “We have zero regrets in putting that stake in the ground. However, we are heartbroken and devastated that so many donors chose to withdraw their funding from the UCA scholars in response to this message.”
By the end of 2022, the school had raised just $14,800.
“We find ourselves in a season where we are running on very few resources, and each time attention is brought to the issue, we are bombarded by hate, which further distracts from our ability to care for the scholars we have in our care,” Callaway-George said.
One outraged patron decried the public position of support and inclusion and cited a reference to ‘sin’ in the Bible.
But Calloway-George is standing firm. “As a Christian school, we believe that each of these beloved humans was made in the image of God,” she says.
In May 2022, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, President Joe Biden warned of "rising hate and violence" against the LGBTQ community.
“We continue to witness disturbing setbacks and rising hate and violence targeting LGBTQI+ people in the United States and around the world. This is wrong,” Biden said.
A month before Biden’s speech, according to NBC News, a man walked into a gay bar in New York City with a bottle of flammable liquid and set the venue on fire.