In alignment with the Community of Christ enduring principle, worth of all persons, the Headwaters Mission Center views all people as having inestimable and equal worth. We seek to uphold the worth of all people individually and in community at all Headwaters Mission Center events. With this as a guiding principle, we want to be sensitive to the needs of each one attending events and ensure they feel welcome and valued.
To uphold the worth of persons it is important for those planning and staffing events as well as those attending events to be aware of their own prejudices, conscious and unconscious biases towards others. Awareness is the first step towards making choices that support others and embody Christ-like love for all. This includes being sensitive to the words we use, the activities we plan and how we interact with each other.
Policies and guidelines have been established to ensure the safety and well-being of all who attend Headwaters Mission Center events. We welcome all those of good will and will not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, age, disability, socioeconomic status, gender identity or sexual orientation. The following guidelines address how we can specifically support the worth of all persons.
By valuing different cultural norms and life experiences, a richness and wholeness is added to our lives. Holding an open mind and heart we can look for ways to honor all participants.
Reflection questions: What biases do I have around someone’s color, race or ethnicity? While at the event how can I learn about and honor the different cultures of other participants?
The values and beliefs of Community of Christ will be taught and embodied by staff at mission center events. We respect other religions and refrain from judgmental statements or being critical of other faiths, knowing we are all children of God.
Reflection questions: What biases do I have around people who have religious beliefs that are different from my own? Am I being sensitive in the language I use to uphold a variety of beliefs?
Women and men are of equal value and are encouraged to share their giftedness at events. It is important to be aware of our assumptions about different sexes as we plan events and interact with each other. For example, when there are physical items needed to be moved, instead of asking for the strong boys or men to help out, ask if anyone is willing to help. If the objects are heavy, ask for strong people to volunteer.
Reflection questions: What assumptions do I have about which sex is creative, nurturing, athletic or leaders? Can I challenge these assumptions and use language that supports the worth and ability of all?
Headwaters Mission Center events have a variety of targeted audiences. Some are age specific and others are intergenerational. When attending events for all ages it is important to consider the needs of all participants. Be sensitive to other participants who may have mobility issues, childcare needs, or dietary restrictions.
Reflection questions: What assumptions do I have around someone being a certain age (old, young, teenage)? How can I proactively and respectfully support someone who may need assistance?
To ensure all are welcome, be aware of the needs of those with disabilities. These disabilities could include physical, cognitive or mental health.
Reflection questions: What biases do I have around those with disabilities? How can I understand and be sensitive to the needs of all participants at this event? Are there ways I can help others feel included?
By treating all participants with respect and dignity, planners and participants will be sensitive to the financial cost of events to participants and their families. Families have different abilities to pay, and this should be considered when setting event fees as well as asking participants to contribute additionally. For example, a youth may be asked to bring extra money for canteen, to bring electronics (cell phones, cameras), or to have certain clothing or equipment for sports. These types of requests may seem simple and yet may be a burden to some families.
Reflection questions: Do I have assumptions around those who have a low socioeconomic status? How can I
be sensitive to the financial abilities of participants and uphold the dignity of all?
Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation
Due to increased awareness of those in the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Questioning, plus) community and their attendance at Headwaters Mission Center events, we wish to educate people about some LGBTQ+ issues and offer the following information and guidelines. Since we have not addressed LGBTQ+ issues before, this section is larger than other sections.
Reflection questions: What biases do I have around someone who identifies as LGBTQ+? How can I help participants communicate in a way that nurtures acceptance and fosters caring relationships with others?
The Basics - Gender, Sex, and Sexual Orientation
When having a conversation about LGBTQ+ issues, it is important to have an understanding of the terminology used, starting with the differences between sex and gender. Sex refers to the biological identification that infants receive at birth based on their genitalia, while gender refers to a person’s self-representation as male or female based on the social characteristics that a culture or society defines as masculine and feminine.
Another area that is commonly confused is gender identity and sexual orientation. Gender identity refers to who you ARE, while sexual orientation refers to who you are attracted to and who you feel drawn to romantically, emotionally and sexually.
Currently there are several identifications assigned to a person’s gender identity. Some of these include non-binary, cisgender, transgender, genderqueer, gender fluid and agender. There are also several identifications associated with sexual orientation; straight or heterosexual, gay or homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, questioning or curious, and asexual. See full descriptions of these identifications below. It’s also important to note that some people don't think any of these identifications describe them accurately. When talking to someone about their sexual orientation or gender identity, use the terms that they use. It’s okay and encouraged to ask what identification people prefer.
It is important to be sensitive to the journey that those in the LGBTQ+ community have been on. Some have been able to express their sexuality and gender identity within supportive families and communities, while others have lived in fear of being authentically themselves. Some have even suffered verbal, emotional and/or physical harm. Trans people have 8 times the attempted suicide rate of non-trans, with more than 30% attempting suicide at least once.
“It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist.”
“This transition has been harder on me than anything I could imagine. And that's the case for so many others besides me. For that reason alone, trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect. And from that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society and a better world for all of us.”
In valuing the worth of all persons, we will offer acceptance and respect to all who participate at Headwaters Mission Center events.
People in the LGBTQ+ community sometimes feel like they need to change their name to match their gender identity. The name they no longer use is sometimes known as a “dead name”. If a person whom you have known by another gender or name tells you that they no longer want to be called by the name assigned them at birth, ask them for their preferred name and call them that instead. If you accidentally use the person’s “dead name” or wrongly gender them, quickly apologize, correct yourself, and continue on.
When it comes to gender, people may not identify as either male or female. Those who identify as non-gender binary, gender neutral or gender queer may not want to use the gendered pronouns (she/he). Some common non-gender specific pronouns that can be used instead are the single form of they/them/their, and the Scandinavian gender neutral zie/zim/zis.
Some people may also identify as gender fluid and may identify as both male and female or gender neutral at any point in time. Asking what pronoun a person uses shows your respect and support for them as an individual.
When assigning housing and restroom usage at mission center events it is important to consider a participant’s safety, privacy and comfort. When a person identifies as other or transgender on their registration form, there should be a brief conversation with the individual to discuss what housing situation would make them feel the most comfortable.
Some may question this guideline and want to assign housing/bathroom usage based solely on the individual’s genitalia. This may not have the person’s best interest in mind. Behind most opinions around housing and bathroom usage for transgender individuals is concern for privacy and safety of all involved. During mission center events, efforts will be made to provide privacy when changing clothes, showering and using bathroom facilities. Since most bathrooms have individual stalls, privacy can be maintained in both men’s and women’s restrooms.
There are long-standing laws that make it illegal for anyone to enter a public restroom for the purpose of harassing or harming another person, or invading their privacy. Headwaters Mission Center will not condone or tolerate harassment or harming of ANY person, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
When referring to the time before someone transitioned or came out as transgender it is never appropriate to say “When you were a girl/boy…” A transgender person often sees themselves as always being the gender opposite of their sex. So, saying that they were a different gender at one point in time implies that they “changed their mind” rather than embracing who they really are. Instead you can refer to this time as “Before you came out…” or “When you went by _dead name_...” However, even though you might ask the question as sensitively as possible, some people might refrain from talking about their pasts. Coming out as Trans can be a very emotional and sometimes painful time in someone’s life, so they might not want to talk about it. Being curious is a good thing, but being sensitive to someone’s situation is even more important.
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES “OUT” SOMEONE AS LGBTQ+ TO ANYONE! The term “outing” someone refers to telling others that someone is LGBTQ+ without the expressed consent of the individual. “Outing” someone before they are ready or safe to do so can cause emotional distress and possibly put them in danger. The highest percentage of physical assaults of LGBTQ+ people happen at home. Instead, ask the individual who you are allowed to tell. Do not make assumptions about who already knows or should know (this includes parents). It is important that we listen to one another and respect the ways in which someone wants or needs to be supported.
Non-binary: A person who does not identify strictly as male or female. They could identify as both, or neither, or as another gender entirely.
Cisgender/cis: A person who has a gender identity consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Transgender/Trans: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth.
Genderqueer: An identity commonly used by people who do not identify or express their gender within the gender binary. Those who identify as genderqueer may identify as neither male nor female, may see themselves as outside of or in between the binary gender boxes, or may simply feel restricted by gender labels.
Gender Fluid: A changing or “fluid” gender identity.
Agender: A person who does not identify with any gender.
Straight or heterosexual: people who’re attracted to a different gender (for example, women who are attracted to men or men who are attracted to women).
Gay or homosexual: people who are attracted to people of the same gender. Gay women may prefer the term lesbian.
Bisexual: people who are attracted to both men and women.
Pansexual: people whose attractions span across many different gender identities (male, female, transgender, genderqueer, etc).
Questioning or curious: people who’re unsure about their sexual orientation.
Asexual: people who don't experience any sexual attraction for anyone.