Rainbow Scarves a UCC movement against bullying
Why your church should advocate for ‘the least of these’
A churchwide movement of more than 1,000 knitters, weavers and crochet artists joined forces to transform General Synod 2013 in Long Beach, Calif., into a landscape of bright colors. Delegates and visitors returned home in July with more than 12,000 rainbow scarves–after signing a pledge to take action in their congregation and community against bullying in public and charter schools.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers are at least three times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual teens. Suicide rates among transgender youth and young adults are even higher. The UCC’s Rainbow Scarf Project helps congregations stand together with LGBT youth–to show that their capacity to love and seek love is God’s blessing on their lives.
Bullying is one of the leading causes of suicide and attempted suicide by LGBT youth. When churches take action together to protect LGBT youth from bullying, they are following the teaching of Jesus: whatever you do for “for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.” (Matt. 25:40 CEB)
Rainbow Scarves at General Synod
How to take action
If you’re one of the General Synod delegates and visitors who signed a pledge to advocate for LGBT youth in your congregation, or if you’re hearing about the Rainbow Scarf Project for the first time, we invite you to take these steps:
- Visit the Bullying and Suicide page on this website for resources on bullying- and suicide-prevention in your community.
- Organize support in your congregation for Spirit Day on Oct. 17. On Oct. 12, the Sunday before Spirit Day, organize a special service in your community in partnership with other ONA and LGBT-welcoming congregations to show support for LGBT youth whose lives are threatened by bullying. Publicize the event in the local media so LGBT youth will know there are churches where they are welcome.
- Organize programs to educate members of your congregation about the epidemic of suicide among LGBT youth, and remember other youth whose lives are at risk. Invite suicide-prevention experts in your community to speak at an adult forum.
- Organize a program for the teenagers in your congregation, so they’ll know it’s important to intervene if any classmate if verbally or physically abused.
- Investigate whether anti-bullying policies in local public and charter schools specifically protect LGBT youth, and if they do, whether teachers and administrators are trained to enforce these policies. Request a meeting with the superintendent of schools to request information.
- Join the Scarf Project group on Facebook, where you can follow what other congregations are doing, and share news and scarf photos from your church.
- Subscribe to the Coalition’s free email newsletter for more resources and opportunities to advocate for LGBT youth in your community.