More than a hundred people gathered outside of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem Sunday afternoon to support LGBTQ youth. 

Corbin Duncan, the music leader for Trinity, led attendees in protest songs and played the piano behind a small sign that read “Trans Youth Belong.”

This was the first event for a new initiative called “Transformation.” It was created as a way to support the trans community in Winston-Salem after congregation members expressed a need for that. 

Susan Parker, a member of Trinity, organized the rally.  

“We've got to keep getting together,” she said. “We have to show the public we're not afraid of the not-right right, that we love our trans folks, and aren't going to be silent in the face of attempts to erase them.” 

She was referring to the number of bills in the North Carolina legislature targeting LGBTQ youth as it relates to their education, their ability to play sports, and their access to gender-affirming care. 

Jennifer McGarvey, a parent of a nonbinary child, became emotional talking about these bills at the rally. 

“The reason why I'm scared to send my kids to school every day is that they are more likely to die from gun violence than me loving and supporting them for exactly who they are,” McGarvey said. “And if legislators would put away their hate and bigotry for one moment, and focus on the thing that is actually killing our kids.”

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Tricia McManus was at the event and said she would do whatever it takes to make sure that the district is inclusive of all students, even if those bills pass. 

“Acceptance should be just a nonnegotiable for everyone,” McManus said. “The fact that we even have to ask for that, or for our students to even have to worry just kills me.”

On behalf of Transformation, Parker closed the event by calling upon local organizations, community members, and faith leaders to show their support.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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