On Thursday, November 17, hundreds of New York high school students will attend the PrideWorks Conference at the Double Tree Hotel in Tarrytown, New York. PrideWorks is a conference for lesbian, “gay,” bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and their allies.
PrideWorks’ mission is to inform our communities about the realities of growing up “gay,” lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and to inspire them to respect and support LGBT people and advocate for positive change.
Jeanne Sparks, Concerned Women for America (CWA) Home Team Captain, has attended this conference since 2006. “I have also been following this since 2006, when I attended the conference and listened to Dani Neusom, a civil rights lawyer, call parents, preachers, and anyone who believes that homosexuality is unnatural and that you can change ‘bigots and homophobes.’ She says that in a hundred years Southern Baptists are going to have to apologize to the ‘gay’ community. Since then I have been on the outside giving out written testimony of those who have been changed by the power of God, giving out Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) information and important statistics from the Centers for Disease Control regarding men having sex with men (71 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses are with men who have sex with men). I wonder if they will tell them that statistic in the workshop on AIDS?”
The keynote speakers for the conference are two transgender lawyers. They will be speaking to between 500-600 attendees – mostly high school students and some middle school students. Most of the workshops have gone beyond homosexuality. Transgender advocacy and normalcy is being taught and promoted. LGBT has recently been changed and is now LGBTQ with the “Q” standing for “questioning.” The student who falls into the “Questioning” category at this event does not stand a chance.
The PrideWorks website lists the workshops which the students can choose to attend. The content of the workshops is very revealing. It is also interesting that the vocabulary surrounding these issues is also growing. A designation being seen more and more is “cisgendered.” This is the opposite of transgendered; someone who is cisgendered has a gender identity that agrees with their societally recognized sex. Many transgender people prefer “cisgender” to “biological,” “genetic,” “real” male or female, or “gender normative” because of the implications of those words. Using the term “biological female” or “genetic female” to describe cisgendered individuals excludes transgendered men, who also fit that description. To call a cisgendered woman a “real woman” likewise excludes transwomen, who are considered within their communities to be “real” women, also.
One workshop is “Being a Genderqueer Ally.” The workshop description states, “This workshop will explore what it means to support people who identify as genderqueer, or not-a-boy-or-a-girl. We’ll have discussions on support non-binary identities and an activity to learn to use gender-neutral pronouns. All are welcome (genderqueer, trans*, cisgender, gay, bisexual, questioning, pansexual, straight, queer, adults, youth, etc.), regardless of involvement in or knowledge of the genderqueer community.”
“The Bible and the LGBTQ Community” will explore “the language of religion, especially the selective use of ‘proof’ texts from both Hebrew and Christian Scripture which has long been used to support bigotry and discrimination against LGBTQ people. What does the Judeo-Christian Bible really say and how can it speak to those who use Sacred Literature to exclude rather than include people based on their sexual orientation?”
The workshop description for “‘Fixing’ What’s Not Broken: The Damage of Reparative Therapy and the Ex-Gay” states, “We hear it all the time: ‘Jesus can cure you of your homosexuality.’ Yet, when the research is done, we find that no one has really ‘prayed the gay away.’ In fact, most people attending ‘change’ groups end up harmed and feeling much worse than when they went in. Dr. Rix, an ex-gay survivor and author of Ex-Gay No-Way: Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse will lead a lively and insightful workshop for anyone to attend.”
Jeanne Sparks will be there. “This year, since the conference is on private property, I will not be close to the kids or have a table. I will be on the streets, while the buses arrive and when they leave. I will be there at lunch time and hope that some who see me there and who are questioning or seeking will come out to me. I have spoken to kids who were raised in Christian homes. Pray for me on Thursday, November 17; pray that God would send others to labor with me; pray that parents will be alerted to the dangers of the ‘Gay,’ Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) as it seeks to infiltrate our schools and the school curriculum. Pray that people will rise up and speak out against this indoctrination and recruitment of our children.”
Click here to listen to our interview with Jeanne prior to a past PrideWorks Conference.