Melany Burrill


Melany has spent her career encouraging open communication between children/youth and their parents around faith, sexuality and decision-making.  After earning a Masters in Religious Education from Wesley Theological Seminary, she served 16 years as the Director of Christian Education for a United Methodist congregation in Northern Virginia.

Her publications include Rethink Inclusion, an online tutorial and curriculum for youth and adults, and All God’s Children, a guide to talking with young children about sexuality and gender diversity. She’s also a certified trainer for the Our Whole Lives Curriculum.

Melany says, I love playing with words–whether in children’s sermons, writing projects, crossword puzzles, or humor.  Away from work, I enjoy bird-watching, being in nature, and playing games. I’m drawn to the intersection of sexuality, education, and the church which makes my work with Many Voices the perfect fit. I’m inspired by people working to build families, churches, and communities without shame or rejection and overflowing with love, affirmation and celebration.

Contributed Resources

Aren’t children too young to learn about sexual and gender differences?
Children & Youth, Frequently Asked Questions
What causes different gender experiences and sexual orientations?
Frequently Asked Questions, Sexual Orientation & Gender Diversity
Wlll talking with children about sexuality and gender influence them?
Children & Youth, Frequently Asked Questions, Sexual Orientation & Gender Diversity
What if a child is gay or transgender?
Children & Youth, Frequently Asked Questions, Sexual Orientation & Gender Diversity
What if a child’s parents are less affirming than I am, and the child comes to me with questions?
Children & Youth, Frequently Asked Questions
All God’s Children (the book)

This small user-friendly book is an essential guide to open and caring conversations with young children about gender and sexual orientation.

Rethink Inclusion

This 4-session curriculum uses Biblical principles to frame the issues of justice and inclusion and inspire participants to take action to transform our Church and our world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love. 

Affirming Family Diversity

By helping children to understand the diversity of the family unit, we can help them feel more comfortable with their unique situation.

God’s Love

A conversation about pie illustrates that God’s Love will not run out like pie but is continuously there for us. 

We Are All in This Together

A group participation activity using a 6 foot circle of rope illustrates the idea that we are connected to everything on earth. God invites us to care for our planet earth.

Be on God’s Team

The example of choosing up sides for a game illustrates the point that everyone is chosen to be on God’s Team and our special job on that team is to love one another.  

Sticky Names

Using stick-on nametags and a marker, make a nametag with your own name and put it on. Then make tags with mean names and stick them over yours.  When you try to separate the mean nametags from your name it damages the original one. Emphasize that name-calling hurts people. 

Inclusive Ideas for Children’s Classrooms

If you’re involved in teaching children and committed to helping them learn to accept all of God’s children from an early age, begin by taking these basic concepts and weaving them into your regular lessons.

Identity Simulation

In this activity, participants identify elements that make up their identity and imagine what it would be like to have to hide important parts of themselves. 

Web of Connection Game

Participants build a yarn or string web, explore its dynamic properties, then watch it collapse. Insights about community and interconnectedness are revealed in the discussion that follows the activity. 

Ingroup-Outgroup Game

This game pulls participants into the fun of working together to keep a member out of the circle. Learning and insight come in the discussion and reflection that follow the game. 


Children are invited to clap or use a noisemaker every time they hear the word ‘welcome” or every time someone makes someone else feel welcome in the story you tell. Tell a story you have personalized (based on the sample here) about coming to your church on Sunday. Welcoming is important work in God’s church. God welcomes us all and wants us to show that kind of welcome to everyone.  

Crayons and differences

Children are invited to examine a box that contains a variety of crayons—some new, some broken, some nearly used up, some sharpened, some dull, some with paper, some without. First talk about the differences among these crayons. Then point out that together they can make a great drawing; they’re all crayons, and they all get along together in the same box!