Education Post:

In rural and small-town America, the pervasive dependency on the church to cope with limited outlets and opportunities can deter local government officials from confronting pastors who disguise Bible-bashing as sensational, yet convincing, propaganda. Elected officials often keep quiet for the sake of re-election. This governmental complicity, combined with a widespread lack of diversity, can threaten constituents from marginalized groups, who often find that their outward differences and hypervisibility render them vulnerable to collective scapegoating.

Evasive and non-committal leaders raise the stakes most, perhaps, in Tennessee, where the General Assembly recently passed the most anti-trans bills nationwide.

Let’s look at…

A public meeting about Bransford Community Center in Springfield, Tennessee.

Not a single one of America’s 28 largest churches spoke out against the fatalities of 4, unarmed youth of color over the past month and a half — 13-year-old Adam Toledo of Chicago, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant of Columbus, 17-year-old Anthony Thompson of Knoxville, and 20-year-old Daunte Wright of suburban Minneapolis, a stone’s throw from the site of George Floyd’s murder. Nor have they vocalized solidarity with any movements galvanized in response.

The deafening silence may not surprise many.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map, for instance, lists 50+ hate organizations masquerading as churches and Christian organizations. In Tennessee, some…

Prior attempts to reach Robert over the past nine months:

July 3, 2020––6 Ways the Church Can Address the LGBTQ+ Suicide Epidemic

July 13, 2020––Dear Pastor: Sermons on Queer Folks’ “Delusional”, “Reprobate” Minds Drive LGBTQ+ Suicide

July 31, 2020––20 Affirmations and Readings for Folks Raised in Anti-LGBTQIA+ Church Families

September 13, 2020––Focus Your Repentance Inward, Not on Antichrist Conspiracies Stereotyping LGBTQ+ Family

November 13, 2020––10 Tactics of Anti-LGBTQ+ Pulpit Bullies

Pastor Robert Gardner of City of Faith International (Springfield, Tennessee).


To begin, I want to be clear that Robert Gardner has issued no private or public apology over the…

This directory serves to assist Texan families experiencing transient or stable power outages, yet is not an authoritative or definitive guide, and was derived from still-developing resources. Primarily, these services pertain to Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, and to a lesser extent, some areas in the Panhandle, the Rio Grand Valley, and North and West Texas (see SHELTERS/WARMING CENTERS). LGBTQ-affirming and Spanish-translated resources are included.

Tips: Prior to commuting, verify a site’s days/hours of operation, capacity/services, eligibility requirements (e.g. COVID-19 and pet stipulations), disability/senior accommodations, and parking. Utilize drop-off services if possible, and avoid driving distant/unfamiliar/unlit routes. Layer…

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

As Catholic author Karen Armstrong put it, “If your understanding of the Divine made you kinder, more empathetic, and impelled you to express sympathy in concrete acts of loving-kindness, this was good theology. But if your notion of God made you unkind, belligerent, cruel, or self-righteous, or if it led you to kill in God’s name, it was bad theology.”

Of 4.2 million homeless youth in America, forty percent identify as LGBTQ+. Half report anti-LGBTQ+ religious conspiracies and rhetoric motivating their homelessness. Knowing this, some pastors continue advancing hateful rhetoric, as if God deems LGBTQ+ people to be so inherently…

World Mental Health Day always comes and goes predictably. Folks post 1–800–273-TALK, encourage others to reach out for help, and the next day, go right back to self-righteously bullying, oppressing, shaming, and traumatizing people in their lives. So let’s discuss what real mental health advocacy actually means.

Real mental health advocacy is a courageous and ethical worldview that centers community welfare and human dignity — individually, institutionally, and societally — in the face of relentless exploitation and injustice.

Real mental health advocacy is organizing to preserve essential public services like early childhood education, food stamps/EBT, Medicaid/Medicare, Section 8, and Social…

‘Rabbi Studying Torah’, Alfred Lakos, 1913.

“Booksmarts aren’t everything” always makes me wonder, “Is the problem that I’m too booksmart, or is it that you are too comfortable being loud and wrong, instead of informed?” Perhaps the real issue is that I pass the mic when it comes to communities or topics of less familiarity, and instead speak and write only on issues I understand well. So when I do share an opinion, people who often skim the surface of complex issues — and get passes because their audience doesn’t know any better — misperceive the depth of my analysis and reflection as “too booksmart”.


Trigger Warning: Discussion of anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theories; conversion/reparative therapy rhetoric; religious abuse/trauma.

The excerpts quoted below reflect 6 or 7 sermons from June till September. I feel not one ounce of bitterness writing this — just sheer disappointment. My sole intention is to illustrate the relentless pressure and resistance LGBTQ+ people can sometimes face from church communities and families, on top of bias in school, work, healthcare, government, media, and other sectors, as well as life-threatening violence in public spaces. For LGBTQ+ people of color, racism compounds these stressors. Some LGBTQ+ Black kids, for example, grow up cornered on all…


Last week, I voted in Texas’ primary election, and proudly supported Houstonian Michelle Palmer, a community activist and education leader who might soon make history as the first openly LGBTQ+ teacher elected to the Texas State Board of Education. As an educator committed to leveraging critical pedagogy to advance empowerment, healing, and liberation, Palmer’s progressive stances about Texas’ core curriculum resonated so much that I reached out to request an interview. She agreed.

“I started fighting for equity in college, and haven’t stopped,” says Palmer. “My campaign is an extension of my decades of advocacy.”

Palmer’s platform certainly reflects a…

Araya Baker, M.Phil.Ed., Ed.M.

Araya Baker is an educator, therapist & writer who promotes disability, education & health equity, across borders, faiths, generations, identities & movements.

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