SFTS Unequivocally Reaffirms Commitment to Full Inclusion of Transgender Persons in the Life of the Seminary Community

“…for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)

In response to the Trump administration’s continuing attacks on the transgender community, San Francisco Theological Seminary unequivocally reaffirms its commitment to the full inclusion of transgender persons in the life of the seminary community and in service in the world. SFTS celebrates the ministries of our transgender students and their abundant gifts and skills for all types of ministry, including military chaplaincy. Again and again, Scripture insists on the full inclusion of every person in community and in ministry, and affirms each person’s full humanity and dignity. (Galatians 3:26-28). The policies of the Trump administration assault the dignity of transgender persons and perpetuate the ongoing violence against the transgender community. SFTS stands against those policies and that violence, and with our transgender students.

To that end, SFTS reaffirms its commitment to non-discrimination, inclusion, and equity. In the first weeks of the Trump administration, the United States Department of Education withdrew its guidance that had included transgender students in the protections of Title IX.  SFTS is steadfastly committed to its existing Title IX policies and other non-discrimination policies, and to the protections that they provide transgender members of our community.  The Seminary’s 2011 Inclusive Community Statement (unanimously adopted by the faculty and the student government) affirmatively states the seminary’s welcome of people of every gender identity (and every age, race, color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nation of origin, religious /faith tradition, and physical ability).  In furtherance of these non-discrimination policies, in recent years the Seminary has implemented gender-inclusive restrooms, affirming the right of each person to identify their own gender.

The SFTS Inclusive Community Statement further sets forth the Seminary’s commitment to support and celebrate the ministries of our LGBTQ students and graduates. Particularly in response to the Trump administration’s military transgender ban (first tweeted, now being implemented as policy), the Seminary affirms the abundant gifts for ministry that we experience in our transgender students and graduates for all kinds of ministry, including military chaplaincy.  The Seminary community continues to celebrate the graduation this past May of the Seminary’s first openly transgender MDiv graduate, Rev. Jamie Lee Sprague-Ballou, who also was the first member of her class to be ordained.

The SFTS commitment to stand with transgender members of our community goes beyond non-discrimination and inclusion.  At SFTS, we are striving to be supportive in innovative ways to listen to and partner with those who are in the forefront of inclusion and welcoming all people into our communities of faith. The SFTS Center for Innovation in Ministry has established the Janie Spahr Reconciling Church project, and launched an online seminar for building healthy and whole churches through the practice and critique of inclusion. The seminar will be offered again this fall. In the Spring, the Center will offer a seminar, led by members of the transgender community, which will focus on ministry from, to, and with transgender Christians.

San Francisco Theological Seminary gives thanks for the blessings we experience in the ministries of our transgender colleagues, and looks forward to being a full partner in these important continuing conversations.

Click here to watch Rev. Jamie Lee Sprague-Ballou discuss the importance of transgender inclusion in the seminary and the church.

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San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS), a leading Christian graduate theological school, has prepared students from around the world for careers in ministry and social justice for more than 150 years. Located in Marin County, California, SFTS offers doctoral, masters, certificate, and diploma programs for nonprofit and for-profit professionals. SFTS is a founding member of the Graduate Theological Union, the largest and most diverse partnership of seminaries and theological graduate schools in the United States. For more information, visit sfts.edu.

The Center for Innovation in Ministry at SFTS is a an incubator for community engagement collaborative programs addressing pervasive spiritual, social and economic issues by using dialogue and action. From addressing police brutality to fostering LGBTQ inclusion, the Center partners with multi-denominational congregations, educational organizations, and other community groups seeking to foster acceptance and understanding. People of goodwill everywhere can engage through partnerships, online courses, on- and off-campus seminars, and various social media platforms to find the knowledge and solutions to help their communities thrive. Please visit innovation.sfts.edu.