Transgender girl asked to stop volunteering at church summer camp because of ‘life choice’
CORDELE, Ga. (WALB) - A 14-year-old transgender girl and her mother say they are upset after the girl was kicked out of a local church camp over her gender identity.
Her family sent WALB texts from the camp counselor after the decision was made.
Elizabeth Clark goes by Lizzie. After coming home from the second day of camp, her mom got a text asking Elizabeth not to come back.
“I was surprised that people who were just preaching about love and accepting everybody to come out and tell me it was best that I not return,” said Clark.
It read in part, “Our team was advised that Elizabeth had made a life choice that unfortunately is causing some distraction at camp. We have agreed it would be best that Elizabeth not return, allowing us the opportunity to meet our promise of a remarkable for the campers.”
One of the terms that stuck out to her was “life choice.”
“If it was a choice, I wouldn’t choose to be a part of the LGBTQ community or be trans because I wouldn’t want to put myself through the struggles that other people don’t have to go through,” said Clark.
When her mom LeeAnn Deeabas saw the text, she said she was in disbelief.
“It was hard…it was really hard. I just wanted to know why, why you singled out my child home why not address the bad behavior,” said Deeabas.
The counselor told WALB, the camp had the girl’s safety in mind when they made that decision. Adding she overheard girls talking about Lizzie in a negative way and at that point, she and other counselors decided they couldn’t ensure her safety ultimately sending her home from camp for the rest of the week.
Connie Bivens is the counselor at Connect Camps in Cordele. She said the organization is a faith-based camp that travels around the world bringing week-long camps to children who are in kindergarten up to 8th grade.
“Our choice, our decision was based on ‘can we keep her safe and can she have a wonderful time at camp.’ We felt we couldn’t do that, and it had nothing to do with Lizzie being transgender,” said Bivens.
They say this type of exclusion isn’t new but they hope with time and education people can change their way of thinking.
“I was told I couldn’t run for homecoming court because I was transgender, they refused to put my pronouns on there and I didn’t get a chance to run. I know that we’re seen as outcasts and different. I hope that people will open their eyes and realize we’re just the same as everybody else. We bleed red and we’re all human We deserve the same treatment as anybody else,” said Clark.
The camp counselor said the girls who were talking negatively about Lizzie were also asked to leave the camp. She said Elizabeth could come back, but only as a camper, not as a leader.
Lizzie said she would not go back.
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