The Brite Divinity School marched in last year's Tarrant County Pride Parade. (Photo credit: Valerie Forstman)

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The Brite Divinity School will participate in this year’s Tarrant County Gay Pride Week, an ongoing tradition at Brite for the past few years.

The Tarrant County Gay Pride Week, which is organized by the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association, is set for Oct. 1-11. The week will celebrate the LGBT community in Tarrant County.

This year’s parade theme is “We are Family.”

Valerie Forstman, the Associate Dean for Common Life and the Director of Admissions at Brite,  said, “Brite has a long commitment to social justice and that includes justice around issues of race, class, gender and sexual identity.”

Forstman said Brite theologically engages in pride to combat the stereotypes and judgments the LGBT community faces in society’s culture.

“Even though this is festive and it’s a celebration, there’s an awareness that there’s a lot of pain and a lot of struggle for inclusion, recognition and reconciliation between communities,” Forstman said.

Tyler Heston, a second-year graduate student at Brite, said he participates in Pride to honor LGBT individuals who have fought for their rights.

“It’s a way to pay homage to those before me who didn’t have the privilege I have,” Heston said.

Heston said protestors at the festival and parade can be emotionally draining for students who partake in these festivities.

“Because the students have asked for it, we have someone there to offer pastoral care to students who feel really abused or violated by the protest,” Forstman said.

Brite will also host its first worship service called “Being Pride” this Friday, which will allow for the TCU and Brite community to show support through prayer and worship.

Danielle Musselman, a first-year graduate student at Brite, said, “We think it will be a rich experience where people of all faiths or no faith can come and be in communion with other people.”

Both Musselman and Heston are part of the Brite Student Association Executive Board and  have worked with other Brite students to plan this week’s events.

“I’m proud of our students for their initiative around embracing justice for gender non-conforming people when many of our students are simply allies,” Forstman said. “They see this as a justice issue that may not directly impact them, but certainly impacts the community that we have here.”

Forstman said she hopes the institution will increase in participation toward social justice efforts for the LGBT community and others.

“We are delighted to have our relationship with disciples on campus,” Forstman said. “But we would love for TCU students across campus to know more about Brite.”