Gay couple says NKY church program barred them from refereeing their child’s basketball game

The couple says they got a knock on the door one night from men two men with the church.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 10:03 PM EST
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FLORENCE, Ky. (WXIX) - A Boone County couple says their decision to enroll their children in after-school sports programs at a local church has resulted in unexpected blowback due to the couple’s sexual orientation.

Jesika and Ayanna McKinney enrolled three of their six children in basketball and cheerleading programs with Upward Bound at Florence Baptist Temple Church a little more than a month ago. They say Boone County Schools advertised the programs.

On Friday, Ayanna volunteered to be a referee at one of the basketball games.

Jesika explained, “Friday night, we got a knock on our door around 6:30 p.m. with two men who were identified as leadership with the church. [...]And they were asking my wife not to referee, and we couldn’t understand what happened... Did we do something wrong?”

The couple claims the men, who identified as Florence Baptist Temple representatives, told them they couldn’t serve either as referees or in any leadership role with the teams because of their sexuality.

“I looked at my wife, and I said, ‘Honey, it’s because we’re gay,’” Jesika recalled. “And he said, ‘Yes, that’s what it is. Unfortunately, it’s part of our church laws, and we have a duty to follow those church laws.’”

The couple says the conversation played out in front of their children.

“They were confused, taken back, saying, ‘I don’t understand. What’s wrong with you and mommy being together?’” Jesika said.

The incident left the couple with a range of emotions. “I was frustrated, hurt... anything you can think of,” Ayanna offered.

“It’s important to know that it is not ok to make someone feel unwelcomed because of how they choose to live their life,” Jesika said.

FOX19 reached out to leaders with Florence Baptist Temple and Upward Unbound for comment on Tuesday. We have not heard back at the time of this writing.

“It’s important for people to know they’re still living in the stone ages, per se,” Jesika said. “It’s 2023, and there are so many differences in the world, and we are striving to fight for those differences.”

The couple is sharing their experience hoping to shield other families from that rejection.

The McKinneys children are now enrolled in the sports program offered directly through Boone County Schools. They say they’ll only consider those programs or programs offered through the YMCA in the future.

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