Politicians are targeting children and we need to protect the most vulnerable among us. As extreme anti-LGBTQ+, and particularly anti-trans legislation is being adopted in Iowa, our Unitarian Universalist congregation in Coralville, Iowa (UUS) is working on opening our building as a safe learning space. At the Learning Space, trans, queer, and other marginalized children and youth in 1st through 12th grade who are enrolled in online school for the 2023-24 school year will be welcomed to UUS for a safe, supervised environment to complete their classes and socialize with others. The Learning Space will be open to anyone in our community–it is not a Unitarian Universalist-only program–as an alternative to virtual learning from home.
Please join us on August 9th for the first-ever Learning Space Open House! Take a tour of the Unitarian Universalist building at 6:30 PM, followed by a Q&A with UUS leadership at 7:00 PM. Participate in the Q&A in person or virtually, all your questions are welcome! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your questions in advance.
To fund the Learning Space, UUS held a successful crowdfunding campaign in April and May which raised over $18,000. This money will help fund:
- Training for supervising adult volunteers in mental health, safety, and the unique needs of trans, queer, and other marginalized youth.
- Basic operations including increased facilities maintenance and janitorial expenses, as well as educational and related materials and supplies.
- Expanding Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education programming for Learning Space participants in grades 4-6 and 7-9.
- Add-on programming options for Learning Space attendees and other trans children and youth in our community that include music, movement, art, therapeutic outdoor sessions, and more!
Although we were successful in raising the funds needed to get the Learning Space going, additional donations are always welcome and will allow us to offer more support and programming for Learning Space participants. Donations can be made online or by sending a check made out to UUS with “Learning Space” on the memo line to our office (2355 Oakdale Road, Coralville, IA).
If you are interested in signing your children or youth up for the Learning Space, or about becoming an adult volunteer, please fill out the Registration Form. If you would like more information about the Learning Space and registration, please email Nic Kaplan at email@example.com.
Why did we hold a campaign to remove costs for families?
The Learning Space program will require funding for increased facilities maintenance, educational materials and supplies, and add-on programming. The new anti-trans laws place heavy burdens on families, such as needing to go out of state to seek gender-affirming medical care, that require money and time. We want to make the Learning Space free of cost for families so that no one needs to worry about having a safe, engaging place where their children and youth can learn.
To further reduce the load for families, we want to train adults from within our congregation and some neighboring congregations and allied organizations to provide supervision for our Learning Space students.
When will the Learning Space open?
While some of the laws hurting trans children and youth have already taken effect, the Learning Space at Unitarian Universalist Society won’t open until August when the new school year begins. With your support we intend to have capacity for up to 50 children and youth to attend classes in the Learning Space with potential additional capacity for add-on programming.
Why does the Learning Space need donations now?
Families are already looking to the Fall and wondering where their children can be safe. We need to be able to assure families that this program will have the support it has to have to train adult supervisors and provide the support families need.
Who are we working with?
UUS is working with our many community organization and interfaith partners as we open this Learning Space. This includes United Action for Youth (a local nonprofit that offers counseling and programming for children and youth), local school districts and schools, support groups for trans and other marginalized students, community organizations, and our interfaith congregational allies.
We have considerable community support, and many families with trans children are sharing how much of a relief it is that we’re planning on making this space available. Amidst the uncertainty about how legal actions against the new laws will play out, many trans children and youth are experiencing a toxic environment that we are grateful to be able to play a part in alleviating.
Who are we?
The Unitarian Universalist Society of Coralville/Iowa City is a welcoming, spiritually diverse home. We act on our values to honor the Earth, advocate for racial and social justice, foster deep connections and embrace the ongoing quest for meaning. Our members are deeply committed to UUS and to one another. We exhibit a strong culture of social justice action, liberal thinking, radical hospitality and sustainability efforts that is reflected in our members’ activities in the congregation and in the greater community. We are diverse and pluralistic regarding our philosophical and theological beliefs and committed to inquiry and to learning from one another.
We trace our origins back to the founding of a small Universalist congregation in 1841 in Iowa City. In 1888 Iowa City’s Unitarian and Universalist churches merged. In 2015 we purchased eight acres of land in neighboring Coralville and moved to an awe-inspiring new Green-Sanctuary certified church building in 2017.