By / Sep 7

Welcome to the all-new ERLC Podcast! In this first series of our new format, we will explore the issues of gender and sexuality and discover what the Bible teaches us about these controversial, but important cultural topics. 

During this episode, you will hear from expert voices about:

  • What it means to be made in the image of God;
  • God’s good design for all people;
  • How the world was corrupted by the fall in Genesis 3; and
  • How to live out countercultural beliefs about these topics. 

While the format is new, our goal for the podcast remains the same. The ERLC seeks to help you think biblically about today’s cultural issues.

We’ve been listening to you to better understand the questions you’re facing and how the ERLC can help on matters related to gender and sexuality. 

On this updated format of the ERLC Podcast, we want to give you brief, informed, practical, and biblically-based answers to important cultural issues.

You are not the only one asking these questions. Just like you, we want to hold fast to the teachings of Scripture as we seek to raise our families, serve our churches, and love our neighbors in an ever-evolving and often challenging cultural landscape. 

We are glad you are here and look forward to walking alongside you as we challenge one another to think biblically and critically on matters of gender and sexuality so that we can live in the world, but not of it—all for the sake of the gospel.

By / Jun 2

Who should decide whether a child should be allowed to identify as transgender? 

In numerous locations across the country, school administrators are saying that they should be the ones to decide—and that they can keep such information from parents. That’s why over the past year, the ERLC has signed onto three different amicus briefs relating to issues of parental rights, transgenderism, and radical gender ideology in schools. 

Two of the cases are currently in federal appeals courts while one is being heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In all three cases—

the school districts violated parental rights by allowing students to use names and pronouns at school different from those they were assigned at birth, without providing parental notification absent a student’s consent.

Amicus briefs

The ERLC is joining with other groups in contending that such policies violate the rights of parents in two principal ways.

  1. First, their fundamental right to direct the care and education of their children includes the right to decide where the child will attend school, but the school policy improperly denied them critical information to inform that decision.  
  2. Second, by withholding such sensitive information when school officials, in their judgment, suspect parents might be insufficiently supportive, the school effectively labels those parents as abusive of their children, without affording them any due process protections as provided by both statutory and constitutional law.   

The amicus brief is a way to introduce concerns ensuring that the possibly broad legal effects of a court decision will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case. An amicus brief is a learned treatise submitted by an amicus curiae (Latin for “friend of the court”), that is, someone who is not a party to a case who offers information that bears on the case but that has not been solicited by any of the parties to assist a court. 

While it’s impossible to know how any particular amicus brief influences a justice or their decisions, such briefs are frequently cited in court rulings, showing that they can have an effect on legal outcomes. 

Joining with state conventions

In two of the cases, the ERLC is joining the amicus with, among other groups, the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention.

In the third case, we are joining with the Baptist Convention of Iowa.

When appropriate, the ERLC wants to come alongside our state conventions and bolster their work promoting sound public policy and pushing back on policies that are harmful to our communities. What happens in these three cases can have national implications, so we want to advocate on an issue—transgenderism—where the SBC has clearly spoken.

How the SBC has spoken

In 2014, messengers of the SBC passed a resolution on transgenderism. That resolution

  • noted that “Some public schools are encouraging parents and teachers to affirm the feelings of children whose self-perception of their own gender is at variance with their biological sex”;
  • expressed the SBC’s opposition to efforts to alter one’s bodily identity (e.g., cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery) to refashion it to conform with one’s perceived gender identity;
  • and stated the SBC’s opposition to “all efforts by any governing official or body to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy (Isaiah 5:20).” 

The position was taken out of love of neighbor and a concern for human dignity. As the resolution states, “we love our transgender neighbors, seek their good always, welcome them to our churches and, as they repent and believe in Christ, receive them into church membership (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Galatians 5:14)” and “we regard our transgender neighbors as image-bearers of Almighty God and therefore condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against them.”

While all children, including those struggling with gender dysmorphia, should be treated compassionately, parents should be providing that counsel and care—not school administrators. Unfortunately, radical gender ideology is often being furthered in schools without the consent or in conflict with the wishes of parents. We believe that parents should have the right to know what is being taught to their children and any decisions that their child is making in regards to gender and sexuality.

By / Oct 10

For the last couple of years, the volume has increased over concerns related to parental rights, especially at public schools. What focused for a time as concerns over in-person education and the use of masks during the pandemic has quickly returned to concerns over matters of sexuality and gender. In the wake of these concerns, Florida and Alabama have passed bills limiting discussions of gender identity and sexuality in classrooms with young children. At the same time, some school districts appear to be attempting to hide possible gender identity transitions from parents.

What are we to do as Christians, and especially Christian parents, as we navigate the world of parental rights in a pro-LGBTQ culture? How do we speak truth into the school systems in our communities and effect change where it is needed?

Let’s begin with a few affirmations.

Affirmations about God’s design for sexuality

God created humans male and female. Genesis 1:26-27 functions as God’s opening statement regarding anthropology. While the focus is often (rightly) placed on the fact that humans are made in God’s image, the second statement of that passage is sometimes overlooked. At the end of v. 27 we read, “He created them male and female.” These words in the opening chapter of the Bible are now considered controversial, but they are not unclear. In an age where distinctions between male and female are blurred, we find the clear testimony of Scripture to be that God created male and female as distinct expressions of humanity.

God created males and females as complementary in nature. Complementarity between male and female is a multifaceted concept, but I want to focus on just one aspect here—sexual complementarity. God designed male and female to be a complementary pair sexually. This idea first appears in Scripture in Genesis 1:28 where we read, “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth. . . .’” With this pronouncement following on the heels of the declaration that God created humans as male and female, we rightly surmise that the process through which mankind would be fruitful and multiply was the sexual relationship that God designed to take place between a man and a woman in the context of marriage (see Genesis 2).

God created the human body as part of his good creation. On five different occasions in Genesis 1, we see that God declared his creation to be good, culminating with the words in verse 31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.” As part of the discussion revolving around gender identity, we sometimes hear the discussion turn to demeaning the body and elevating the mind so that the body must be changed. But we cannot forget that the physical body is part of God’s good creation.

With these theological affirmations in place, how do we engage our schools on matters of sexuality and protect parental rights in the process?

How to equip your children and engage with your school

Teach your children the truth of God’s Word on matters of sexuality. Conversations with our children about sexuality can be awkward—let’s just admit it. But we can’t allow the awkwardness of the conversation to prevent us from having them. We have found, especially with our older children, that they are confronted with unbiblical models of gender and sexuality on a regular basis at school. Thus, it is crucial that they have been taught a biblical model and home and church. We need to teach them how to engage in conversations at school so they can speak knowledgably and are able to communicate with their parents when something different is being taught or promoted at school.

Be an involved parent. We cannot clamor for protecting parental rights in the schools if we are not involved in the life of the school. Volunteer in the classroom. Serve on a committee. Provide support for teachers and staff. Go to school board meetings. By getting involved, we build relationships. Most changes that we want to see come to fruition are best accomplished on the basis of a relationship with a teacher, principal, or school board member. If we are not involved, we will generally not be heard.

Vote in local elections. We tend to get excited about national elections with potential far-reaching ramifications, but most of the politics that affect our daily lives happen on the local level. High profile school board elections in districts that have already experienced controversy make the national news, but the controversial policies enacted in those districts most likely came as a result of years of inattention to local politics by the average citizen. We need to get out and vote in these local elections, and some of us may even need to run for office.

Promote biblical convictions for sexuality and gender. The biblical vision for gender and sexuality—gender identity that corresponds to biological sex and sexual expression through the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman—was not controversial just 15-20 years ago. The culture is not so far gone that we cannot restore this vision through faithful teaching and living. Our promotion of biblical convictions begins in our homes and then extends into our communities.

Protecting parental rights in a pro-LGBTQ culture begins by exercising those rights. When the world says our vision for sexuality and gender is out of date or harmful, we demonstrate it through our lives and proclaim it unashamedly.

By / May 13

Florida recently passed legislation expanding and codifying parental rights in their child’s education. One of the most controversial sections of the law prohibits classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade or in a manner that is not age or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards. 

Critics have used this provision to frame this legislation as a “Don’t Say Gay” law. But supporters on both sides of the political aisle say such legislation is necessary because parents should be informed regarding what their children are taught about topics like homosexuality, transgenderism, and gender fluidity.

“Parents have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, and schools should not be keeping important information from parents,” said Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson. “Children belong to families, not the state.”

Since the passage of the Florida bill, more than a dozen other states have proposed similar legislation. Here is some of the legislation related to parental rights and LGBTQ+ issues in education:

Alabama: In April, the state passed an amendment that prohibits classroom instruction or discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity for students in kindergarten through the fifth grade in public K-12 schools.

Arizona: A proposed bill in the legislature would allow parents to review the formational documents of any school student group or club involving sexuality, gender, or gender identity. Another bill had language stricken from its final version that would have prevented school officials from withholding or concealing, facilitating, encouraging, or coercing students into concealing a student’s gender identity or “requested transition” if it is “incongruous with their biological sex.” Parents also would have needed to give consent before students were asked questions on a survey about gender expression, perception, or stereotypes. 

Indiana: A proposed bill would prohibit any requirement for students enrolled at a state educational institution to engage in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling. Another proposed bill would require parents’ written consent for students to receive sex education on transgenderism and would require parental consent for medical inspections or mental health treatment, including on counseling about gender transitioning issues, pronoun selection, and referral to other agencies that provide these services.

Iowa: A proposed bill prohibits curriculum provided to a student from including instruction relating to gender identity unless the school district or accredited nonpublic school obtains the prior written consent of the student’s parent or guardian. If a parent or guardian does not provide written consent, a student may opt out of instruction relating to gender identity. Another bill would require schools to give a week’s notice to parents before educators ask students which pronoun they prefer or before administering a survey on pronoun use and to send them the response upon request.

Louisiana: A proposed bill would prohibit classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindegarten through eighth grade and prohibit teachers, school employees, and presenters from discussing their sexual orientation or gender identity with students. 

Missouri: A proposed bill would prevent public schools from requiring students to engage in gender or sexual diversity training. 

North Carolina: A proposed bill would require any state employee to report to parents if a minor has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with their biological sex.

Ohio: A proposed bill would prevent, teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through third grade, and prohibits students in grades four through 12 from being taught or having to use curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity in any manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

Oklahoma: A proposed bill would prohibit public schools or libraries from holding or promoting books that make as their primary subject the study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender issues or recreational sexualization.

Rhode Island: A proposed bill would also require children to be addressed by their common names and the pronouns associated with their biological gender unless parent permission is given to change them.

South Carolina: A proposed bill would prevent any state-funded entity from subjecting minors under the age of 18 to instruction, presentations, discussions, counseling, or materials in any medium that involve a number of “controversial and age-inappropriate topics,” including gender identity. The state has also proposed a bill that says a student, administrator, teacher, staff member, other school or district employee, or volunteer may not be required to engage in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.

Tennessee: A proposed bill would prohibit the state board from approving textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promotes, normalizes, supports, or addresses lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues or lifestyles.

Wisconsin: The governor vetoed broad-based parent’s rights legislation that included a right to determine the names and pronouns used for the child while at school.