As pastor, a Christian and a parent, I oppose Initiative 1515’s attempt to repeal our state’s nondiscrimination protections.

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AS an evangelical Lutheran pastor, I’ve humbly tried throughout my life to live out Christ’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves — including those who may seem different from us. It’s a core part of how I live my Christian faith, and the example my wife and I want to set for our daughters.

Like many people, there was a time when I didn’t know much about what it meant to be transgender. Because so few of us personally know a transgender person, the idea of a person being born one gender but knowing themselves to be another can sound unusual, confusing and may be a bit uncomfortable at first. I’ll admit it was for me.

Then, through my ministry, my wife and I came to know some transgender people and their families and learned of the discrimination they sometimes face. That experience really opened my eyes to the suffering of folks in our community, whomI realized I knew little about.

I’ve reflected back on that experience recently as I’ve been hearing about other states that have proposed or passed new laws allowing discrimination against transgender people in public places, including in public restrooms. Now, a proposed Washington ballot initiative, Initiative 1515, seeks to roll back discrimination protections for transgender people — legal protections that have been in place for 10 years.

The supporters of I-1515 say safety and privacy are their goals. As a husband and the father of four daughters, it’s only natural to worry about the well-being of our families and children, especially when we hear so many tragic stories about people victimized by physical assaults or sexual violence. When we’re anxious or concerned, it’s important to step back and get the facts.

That’s why I listen to our law enforcement and violence-prevention experts. These leaders, including King County Sheriff John Urquhart, former Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick and the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, know that nondiscrimination laws permitting transgender men and women to use public facilities that match their gender are not, and have never been, a threat to anyone’s safety. In fact, they say I-1515 would do nothing to improve public safety. It might even make things worse by encouraging strangers to confront and question others in public facilities and violate each other’s privacy and safety.

As a pastor, Christian and parent, I oppose I-1515’s attempt to repeal our state’s nondiscrimination protections. Doing so would single out our transgender neighbors for different treatment and potentially put their safety at risk and would have unintended consequences for all of us.

My wife and I have prayed about this and come to believe that protecting people from discrimination is about treating others as we want to be treated. We’re all God’s children — including people who are transgender — and we should all be treated equally under the law.

As you search your heart, I hope you’ll join me and many other parents and faith leaders who are standing up against I-1515’s repeal of Washington’s discrimination protections for transgender people. Support Washington Won’t Discriminate: WashingtonWontDiscriminate.org.