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In the early Spring of 2010,
the Unitarian Universalist Church of East Aurora
offered the series of workshops called
We have left this information here on our website, so you can read about the workshops.
Schedule at a glance:
1. Jan 29, 2010: Introduction: goals, guidelines, assumptions, definitions, fears and hopes, questions.
2. Feb. 5, 2010: Gender socialization, stereotypes and homophobia: Good girl/boy, bad girl/boy memories, right/wrong rules, positive/negative reactions, avoiding being called “queer.”
3. Feb. 12, 2020: Oppression: dominant/target groups, privileges, examining various forms of oppression in our society.
4. Feb. 19, 2010: Radical Right: rigid vs. clear thinking, Christian Right, case studies. How to respond to rigid thinkers.
5. Feb. 26, 2010: Religion and homosexuality: What is and isn’t in the Bible, Christian perspectives, working for justice.
6. Mar. 5, 2010: History: film and guest speaker
7. Mar. 12, 2010: Bisexuality and biphobia: stories, Kinsey and Klein scales
8. Mar. 19, 2010: Transgender identity: definitions, information, questions, challenges.
9. Mar. 26, 2010: Experiences of BGLT people: panel of guest speakers
10. Apr. 2, 2010: Moving Forward: review, examine attitudes, discuss actions
To download our tri-fold brochure outlining this program, right-click on the following link and select “Save Target As…” then save the file to your computer and print it. wcflyer1
We may find it necessary to rearrange the order of the workshops to accommodate guest speakers (or to postpone a meeting) during the series. Please be sure to contact one of the workshop facilitators to be certain a meeting will take place as scheduled.
Workshop Series Facilitators:
Donata Ahern – donata1734[@]gmail.com
Mark Flanders – markflanders123[@]gmail.com
Patricia Herold – pherold[@]localnet.com
(Remove brackets when e-mailing)
To sign up for the workshops, please contact any of the facilitators.
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About the program:
The Welcoming Congregation Workshop Series is an introspective and interactive educational journey into the issues surrounding the lives of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people. The learning goals are:
v To explore thoughts, feelings, and current knowledge about sexual orientation (homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality) and gender identification (trans-gender).
v To probe the origins of our beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identification.
v To test attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identification in Unitarian Universalist congregations and society, and their connections to current social issues such as AIDS, racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, and so on.
v To understand the experiences of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people.
v To see the effects of heterosexism and homophobia on people of all sexual orientations in Unitarian Universalist congregations.
v To uncover the biblical roots of common religious perspectives on homosexuality.
v To devise individual and institutional strategies for Unitarian Universalist congregations to become more welcoming to bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people and their families.
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The Unitarian Universalist Association has been on record since 1970 supporting the rights and work of bisexuals, gays, and lesbians, yet oppression continued to exist in UU congregations. At the 1989 General Assembly, UUs representing congregations across the continent voted to initiate the Welcoming Congregation program to make our congregations truly welcoming for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
The purpose of the Welcoming Congregation program is not to blame ourselves for our feelings but rather to help us understand how we learned our reactions to BGLT people and how we can replace old attitudes with new ones. The program is an interactive and introspective educational journey of self-discovery and broadening understanding.
Our program will be a series of 10 weekly 2-hour workshops, to be held on Friday evenings, starting on January 29th 2010, and continuing through April 5th. We expect to host several experts for a few of the workshops – activists, religious leaders, and BGLT folks willing to share their experiences with us. Welcoming Congregation co-facilitators will be Donata Ahern, Mark Flanders, and Patricia Herold. We would prefer that you make a commitment to attend all of the workshops, which are also open to the community beyond our church membership. Some of our workshops – when we have a film or guest speakers – will be open to all.
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Why are we singling out homosexual people to welcome to our congregations? Isn’t it the job of our membership committee to welcome everyone?
Churches are the most anti-homosexual institution in America, and much of the justification used to promote anti-homosexual feelings, legislation, and violence is couched in “religious” language. One researcher discovered, for instance, that 95 percent of convicted gay-bashers interviewed in prison cited “religious” motivations for their crimes. So, it is particularly hard for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and and/or transgender people to feel safe bringing their whole selves into churches. Even in Unitarian Universalist congregations, many bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people are afraid that revealing the gender of their partner means being asked, directly or indirectly, to leave. When the congregation indicates a commitment to the hard work necessary to welcome bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people, it heightens their sense of safety to be open and involved in congregational life.
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Heterosexism is cultural, institutional, and individual beliefs and practices based on heterosexuality as the only normal, acceptable, healthy sexual orientation.
Homophobia is the irrational fear, hatred, or intolerance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender people. Homophobia also includes uneasiness with any behavior that does not conform to gender-role stereotypes. Homophobia can manifest itself in fear of being gay, fear of being perceived as gay, or fear of being associated with gay people. Homophobic behavior can range from laughing at “queer” jokes to engaging in violence against bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people. Homophobia helps to maintain sexism as well as heterosexism.
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Imagine a world in which your life appears only as a negative. Imagine that whenever you hear your life mentioned it is with derision – a laugh or a sneer – or with shame – a whisper or an apologetic tone of voice. Imagine that you have lived with the person you love for years and have never heard your life and circumstances affirmed or positively reflected back to you.
Homophobia and heterosexism are alive and well, yet the oppression has become more sophisticated. For example, it used to be that gay and lesbian people were seen as being child molesters and were dangerous to children. Now it is said that children need two parents of different genders to be healthy, and that having openly gay or lesbian teachers is confusing to children and they are not ready for this. Gay marriage is said to be a threat to the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. The message is the same: Bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender (BGLT) people are second–class citizens, less valued than heterosexual people. Only the way it is presented has changed.
If you have grown up in the main stream of American culture, you have learned that homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender issues should be kept hidden or be condemned, and that heterosexuality is the only normal form of sexual expression. You may have learned to accept destructive stereotypes about gay people. Each of us responds to this learning in a different way – we may feel uncomfortable discussing homosexuality or being with “those people,” or we never may have thought much about homosexuality at all because we assume that everyone in our lives is heterosexual.
Times are changing, and many of us may have rejected these myths and judgments. Yet though intellectually we may respect everyone’s worth and dignity and equal rights, societal conditioning has likely left us with unresolved doubts and fears around BGLT issues and experiences. As open-minded as we may see ourselves, our discomfort and lack of true understanding and acceptance may persist. How can we become more enlightened around these issues? And what can we do to help BGLT people feel more included and respected in society?
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