Interfaith Panel Discussion on LGBTQ Contributions in Kern County Faith Communities

September 21, 2018 /

The Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity is partnering with the California State University-Bakersfield’s Kegley Institute of Ethics and the CSUB Institute for Religion, Education, and Public Policy (IREPP), will soon host a unique interfaith forum tonight on the acceptance and contributions of LGBTQ people in Kern County spiritual communities.

The free community event will be held at 6 p.m. at The Center’s Downtown Bakersfield location at 902 18th Street. It will include Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist perspectives.

Jan Hefner, The Center’s Executive Director, said the panel discussion is important for better understanding the struggles that LGBTQ people of faith experience, and to underscore and develop a culture of support and hope.

“We work to help individuals build self-esteem and develop a sense of community with those who accept them as they are,” Hefner said. “Because of societal or family rejection, LGBTQ persons are at higher risk of experiencing mental anguish that can lead to substance abuse, depression, anxiety and self-harm. We don’t have statistics that help us understand how faith-based rejection contributes in creating this disparity, but many people tell us of sadness and grief at feeling separated from a faith community.”

The event will start off with a social mixer at 6 p.m., with the panel discussion moderated by Kegley Institute of Ethics Associate Director, Dr. Nate Olson starting at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact The Center at (661) 843-7995 or visit