(LA Blade) A private, religious school in Florida told parents LGBT children “will be asked to leave the school immediately” and called queer people “sinful” in a June email. 

In the June 6 email obtained by NBC News, Grace Christian School administrator Barry McKeen said LGBTQ people are “sinful in the sight of God and the church,” and ”students who are found participating in these lifestyles will be asked to leave the school immediately.”

He also likened LGBTQ “lifestyles” to “bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography” while citing Bible verses.

In addition, the email said the school — located in Valrico, Fla., 20 miles east of Tampa — would only refer to students by the ”gender on their birth certificates.”

“We believe that God created mankind in His image: male (man) and female (woman), sexually different but with equal dignity,” McKeen wrote in the email, according to NBC News. 

He added: “Therefore, one’s biological sex must be affirmed and no attempts should be made to physically change, alter, or disagree with one’s biological gender — including, but not limited to, elective sex reassignment, transvestite, transgender, or non-binary gender fluid acts of conduct (Genesis 1:26-28).”

The Los Angeles Blade could not independently confirm the contents of the email but attempted to contact Grace Christian representatives. The school did not return the request.

McKeen responded to the NBC News article on Facebook, confirming Grace Christian does not allow students who are “homosexual or transgender” because it is “rooted in scriptures.”

“God has spoken on those issues, explicitly, aggressively, and we have had these policies in our school since day number one in the early 1970s,” said McKeen. “This is not new.”

McKeen also said the policy would stay. 

“We are not a hateful group of people, he said. “We don’t hate students who are of a particular persuasion.”

NBC News also reported the email played a role in one 16-year-old student, who is gay, transferring to a more accepting religious school. The outlet did not name the student or her mother, citing fear of harassment, 

“It’s not like my daughter goes around wearing rainbow flags or anything like that,” the teenager’s mother said. “But I’m not going to have her feel ashamed of herself for any reason.”

The student said she feels “normal” at the new school. 

NBC News’s reporting comes as state leaders are pushing for and passing laws aimed at limiting the rights of LGBTQ youth. Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill took effect on June 30, prompting confusion as teachers cautiously wait to see how the law will be interpreted and enforced. Attorneys general in 16 states have filed a lawsuit against the law.

It is also at least the second time this month a religious school has been accused of shunning the LGBTQ community, according to NBC News. In Louisiana, a Christian school asked a same-sex couple to find a new school for their child because of “lifestyle choices.”


 SFGN and the Los Angeles Blade are media partners.