The Huffington Post's Religion Blog shared an article about Carrol Grady's disinvitation from the North American Division teacher's convention in Nashville this week. Grady, who planned to share anti-bullying materials at a convention booth, received word from convention center personnel that she would not be allowed an exhibition space after she had already paid for a booth and travel to and from Nashville.
The Huffington Post article reports that Grady felt both hurt and confused by the disinvitation.
"I found it difficult to understand how this venue was not right for our group," she says, "when we are a ministry directed toward young people who are often the target of bullying in our schools and one of the themes of this convention is bullying and harassment in schools. What students and teachers often need is simply someone to talk to." Grady wrote a book, "My Son, Beloved Stranger," and ultimately founded this ministry after walking with her own gay son through the challenges of being gay and an Adventist Christian.
Grady wrote to NAD Vice-president for Education Larry Blackmer asking for the courtesy of an explanation.
Blackmer replied saying that several unnamed people complained about her organization's support for gay marriage. Other education officials then allegedly voted to ban her booth from the convention.
Grady contends that she had no intention of promoting same-gender marriage, but hoped to be able to raise awareness of bullying against lesbian and gay students in Adventist schools. This seemed particularly appropriate given that one of the convention's emphases would be bullying. However, Huffington Post reports that the decision to prevent Grady from talking to attendees came down to dogma.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church's official position is that, "sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman." This places Someone To Talk To's viewpoint outside the official church doctrine. Other Adventist leaders wonder whether every booth is being submitted to the same scrutiny.
"Are all the booths being screened for doctrinal purity?" asks David Ferguson, recent past Church Relations Director of Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, a ministry that provides a safe, spiritual and social community to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex current and former Seventh-day Adventists around the world. "Are other organizations being excluded based on their beliefs about the age of the earth or the ordination of women?"
Despite attempts to block Grady from discussing bullying of LGBT students, she plans to attend the conference and make an impact in whatever ways she is able.
Grady and her team decided to go to Nashville in spite of the ban on their booth, to talk with individuals about their ministry and hand out their materials, but Grady now says she has been informed that security will be prohibiting the distribution of material in the convention facilities. "They can't stop us from talking to people," she says. "If they want our material we can go outside and give it to them off the property."
Read the full Huffington Post report here.
Image: Artwork for a T-shirt to be worn by Grady's supporters during the convention.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4651