Urban Christian Academy provides its southeast Kansas City students with a tuition-free private education, kindergarten through eighth grade. It has always supported its queer staff and students, but quietly. Last winter, executive director and co-founder Kalie Callaway-George wanted to make the school’s LGBTQ+ support known widely, and not kept quiet.
“I think our community members felt safe within our walls, but we wanted them to feel publicly protected as well. Eventually, it felt like our silence was contributing to the hurt and pain our queer community members were experiencing,” she said in an email to The Star. “We deeply longed for all people to feel welcomed, loved and celebrated not just secretly within our walls but very explicitly to the public as well.”
After the decision to openly support the LGBTQ+ community, Urban Christian Academy updated its mission statement to reflect its inclusivity and sent informed the community of the change via newsletter. In the six months that followed, the school lost 42% of its funding usually provided via donation from churches and congregation members. The school lost 80% of its funding by the end of 2022, and now the school will be forced to close due to all eight churches that helped fund the school withdrawing their support, “citing a disagreement of values based on the inclusion of the LGBTQ community.”
“We find ourselves in a season where we are running on very few resources and each time attention is brought to the issue we are bombarded by hate which further distracts from our ability to care for the scholars we have in our care,” Callaway-George said.
“Although we love and admire you in many ways, for your hard work, compassion, commitment, strength, we draw the line at this issue. Christian compassion doesn’t mean universalism. Jesus loved all, but told them, ‘go and sin no more.’ He died so we could be saved, healed, delivered, and set free,” one patron wrote to the school. Callaway-George replied: “As a Christian school, we believe that each of these beloved humans was made in the image of God.”
Callaway-George said the school has reached out to other churches in Kansas City, but none have offered financial help. Urban Christian Academy will close after the last day of the year, May 24.