A Florida Christian school experienced death threats, hateful calls and other forms of harassment over the last week due to its religious views on gender, sexuality and marriage.
Although Grace Christian School in Valrico, Florida has had a “human sexuality policy” for the entirety of its nearly 50 years of existence, sudden outrage against the school was brought on by a recent NBC News story that spread nationally.
The resulting furor forced the school to beef up security and enlist a significant police presence outside its facilities.
The news story focuses on a June email school administrator Barry McKeen sent to parents about how the school’s sexuality policy applies to transgender issues, including the use of pronouns.
“We believe that God created mankind in His image: male (man) and female (woman), sexually different but with equal dignity,” McKeen’s email reads. “Therefore, one’s biological sex must be affirmed and no attempts should be made to physically change, alter, or disagree with one’s biological gender — including, but not limited to, elective sex reassignment, transvestite, transgender, or non-binary gender fluid acts of conduct (Genesis 1:26-28). Students in school will be referred to by the gender on their birth certificate and be referenced in name in the same fashion.”
While these religious views of human sexuality are well established in Christian schools and churches in the United States, they contradict new transgender policies being implemented by many large public school districts across the country – policies critics say are a radical departure from what is appropriate for children.
Even so, the national coverage brought on a barrage of hateful, threatening calls and letters for multiple days.
“It’s funny for us to … be painted as hateful,” McKeen told Fox News Digital. “We have fielded hundreds, probably thousands of phone calls Thursday, Friday over the weekend, with just some of the most outrageous things: People threatening to burn my house down, threatening to kill my family.”
McKeen explained that no child has been forced to leave the school over sexual orientation, adding that in one case, the parents and school mutually arrived at a decision to part ways over the issue.
In a video responding to the NBC News article, McKeen said that the school is not may not suit everyone and parents have a choice whether or not to send their children. The school currently has a waitlist of over 100 students.
“We are not a hateful group of people. We don’t hate students who are of a particular persuasion,” McKeen said in the video, adding that he and his wife have gay friends with whom they disagree, yet share a mutual respect.
Some who disagree with the policy have even defended the school, including one mother who told local media that she respects the stance of the school which has “loving teachers,” even after pulling her lesbian daughter out of the school.
While much of the outrage aimed at the school claims that the policy specifically targets gay and transgender students, McKeen disagrees, saying the policy applies much more broadly to sexual behavior.
“We don’t expect any of our students who are not married to be sexual, whether it be bisexual, heterosexual or homosexual,” McKeen told Fox News Digital. “I tell people, if a kid came in the doors, exclaiming how he was having sex with his girlfriend, that student would be expelled as well.”
In his video response, McKeen also noted that policies like his school’s can be found in nearly any Christian school across the nation. “It’s kind of been beyond me that this has blown up to what it is – like you’re shocked that a Christian school has this policy?” he asked rhetorically.
Though the backlash has been severe, support from many people across the country and within the community has poured in as well. One man even donated $5,000 to the school with a message, “stay strong, keep the faith.”
As for any chance that the school adjusts its policy in light of the outcry, McKeen is clear:
“I don’t answer to NBC News. I don’t answer to local news. I don’t answer to bloggers or TikTokers. I answer to God.”