FCA requiring members to sign a form that discriminates against LGBTQ+ members

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FCA requiring members to sign a form that discriminates against LGBTQ+ members

Graphic: Grace Crowley

Graphic: Grace Crowley

Graphic: Grace Crowley

Graphic: Grace Crowley

Fiona McAleer, Staff Writer

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Roswell High School has created an amiable, welcoming environment. Despite its friendly climate, there is a hidden factor that is detrimental to the reputation of the school. Fellowship of Christian Athletes (also known as FCA), is a club that unites a love for sports and faith. FCA has been prospering and spreading its beliefs for sixty years. According to the FCA website the club’s goal is “to lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.” Although it is a religious club and claims to have good morals and goals, after extensive research I have found that the association encompasses discriminatory beliefs against certain groups in our society.

One of the main issues with the club is a declaration located in both the Statement of Faith and in the Student Leadership Application. The text explains that the club believes “God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.”

I was shocked and irritated after reading this statement because I thought that school clubs would be more inclusive and benevolent in general. I did more research on the topic and met with a lawyer to discuss the legal aspects of the contract. I talked with Chris Schneider who is an attorney at the Thomas Hine law firm. Ms. Schneider explained that the club can legally “exclude [people] from leadership” if individuals refuse to sign the form. Ms. Schneider and I reviewed over the Fulton County Code of Conduct. The section that was the most prominent to us was the bullying and harassment section. The Code of Conduct explains that “Harassment includes behavior that creates an unpleasant or hostile situation by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct, teasing, or taunting.” Ms. Schneider elucidated that the contract could violate this section of the Code of Conduct but “It depends on the facts behind the way [the contract] is presented.” If the way that the club presents the contract makes students feel inferior if they do not sign the form, the club could be violating the Code of Conduct.

After contemplating how the club could possibly be violating the Fulton County Code of Conduct, I thought that it would be important to interview a previous club member that left the organization after the leadership application was presented to her. I talked with Mckenzie Glaze, who was a previous member of the club. She had been part of FCA for a little more than three years. McKenzie first became involved in religion after a mission trip to Chattanooga. She explained that she “fell in love with serving others.” The leadership application was given to her and she refused to sign it. She left the club and was one of the individuals that created the Roswell United club. When I asked Mckenzie why she refused to sign the form she said that “Sin is a choice and being gay is not a choice.”

I don’t think that love can be a sin.”

— Mckenzie

In addition, I interviewed Don Wheeler, who is an FCA volunteer for North Fulton. He was one of the people who tried to get Mckenzie to sign the form and plays a support role in the club. He said that the application “helps everybody to be on the same page.” I asked Mr. Wheeler that, considering that the contract is not supporting members of the LGBT population, is the clubs beliefs inferring that members of that community cannot be sufficient leaders? He responded by saying that I was “trying to put him in a box.”

“I believe that God created us beautifully and wonderfully and for you to exclude one group from another, I don’t think that is part of God’s plan. God’s taken us all. I don’t believe in singling out LGBT,” said Mr. Wheeler. He then prompted me to come to one FCA meeting because I might “have a different heart” afterwards.

I also interviewed two Roswell High School students. Nate Smith and Emma Manlapas are both members of the LGBT community. Nate explained that he had been a part of FCA during middle school.

“I was going and then I found out that apparently they were not okay with me getting married [to the same sex], so I stopped,” he said.

He is now an atheist. I showed the quote previously stated by Mr. Wheeler about not singling out members of the LGBT community.

“That’s not how the club is run. The people who are in it and the leaders of it, that’s not how they are,” said Nate.

“It makes me angry because not only is it their opinion, but anybody who joins this club is being taught this,” said Nate after reading the application.

Emma had a similar response to the application.  

“It’s troubling to think that your classmates are complicit in something that doesn’t want you to have a family,” she said.

“I am very secure in how I feel and I’m not threatened by the leadership statement of FCA, but it is very upsetting,” she said.

Despite Mr. Wheeler advocating for the club and explaining that it is all-embracing, students who are part of the LGBT population feel discriminated against.

After looking further into FCA and its beliefs, I think that is important for us as an entire community to step back and review over the nobility of the club. FCA is discriminating against an entire population of people and saying that they should not be able to love others. People are people no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation or any other defining characteristics. A school club is not in the right place to tell a student who they may or may not love. So, let us dissect every single belief of the club. While you do, I ask you to keep in mind the Bible quote “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”