More than 130 Michigan faith leaders across multiple denominations — including Bishop Wendell N. Gibbs Jr. and several other clergy and representatives from the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan — have signed an open letter to Michigan lawmakers affirming their support for the safety and well-being of all students. The letter was written in response to the recent threats of legislative backlash following the Michigan State Board of Education (MSBE) Statement and Guidance on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students released for public comment on March 14, since extended to May 11.
State Senator Tom Casperson, among a group of conservative state lawmakers, have announced plans to issue various measures, including a possible “bathroom inspection” bill targeting transgender students, in direct response to the MSBE statement.
Members of the diocese on the list as of April 27 include Bishop Gibbs, the Rev. Dr. Kit Carlson (All Saints, East Lansing), Jim Toy (St. Matthew’s & St. Joseph’s, Detroit), the Rev. James Rhodenhiser (St. Clare’s, Ann Arbor), the Rev. Susie Shaefer (St. John’s, Clinton), the Rev. Joseph Summers (Church of the Incarnation, Ann Arbor), the Rev. Sarah Midzalkowski (One Community Michigan State University, East Lansing), the Rev. Beth Taylor and Sr. Elizabeth Marguerite (St. John’s, Royal Oak) and the Rev. Linda Northcraft (All Saints, Pontiac).
Clergy wishing to be added to this open letter should L. Michael Gipson, Deputy Director of EQMI @firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Inclusive Justice understands extending hospitality to strangers and those on society’s margins is a value we share,” according to the Rev. Beth Rakestraw, board co-chair of Inclusive Justice. “Not doing harm to others is also a value important among all faiths. These proposed legislative measures would harm many of our youth who are, or are even perceived to be, transgender or gender non-conforming and would do absolutely nothing to protect any Michigan student. Every human being deserves the right to take care of the very basic human need to relieve one’s self in dignity and safety.”