Evangelical Colleges and Their Gay Students

In my neck-o-the-woods, Bethel University‘s provost recently held an open conversation with gay students and allies, where they were able to talk openly about their experiences at a college that officially discriminates against them.

At one of my alma maters, Fuller Theological Seminary, a campus-wide conversation about sexuality was recently held. Heteronormativity was ultimately upheld at each of these institutions, but here’s what I think: As soon as you give LGBT persons a voice, they are humanized. And when that happens, it’s only a matter of time before¬†discriminatory¬†policies begin to collapse.

At HuffPo, Ron Davis writes about a similar debate being held at his alma mater, George Fox University:

Like many evangelical colleges, the school requires students and staff to sign a lifestyle agreement which, among other things, requires them to refrain from nonmarital sexual activity and proscribes homosexual relationships. A group of LGBTQ and allied alumni called OneGeorgeFox presented the administration with an open letter. The letter challenges the University’s policy, and disputes LGBTQ stereotypes, invoking gay student’s desire to have families and demanding their Christian community’s support.

The University responded to the letter with characteristic civility, affirming everyone’s dignity, and acknowledging the need for improved communication, but ultimately reiterating its heteronormative theological position. Less characteristically, the administration has told its faculty that, although they can facilitate discussions among students, signing the letter or otherwise publicly advocating for a position at odds with the University’s policy violates their employment contracts.

Consequently, a passionate, ideologically diverse faculty’s signatures are notably absent. This is egregious. Universities exist, in large part, to encourage truth-seeking, and the faculty form the backbone of this pursuit. That a Quaker university could display such gross epistemic hubris strongly suggests the administration has lost sight of these guiding principles. (Read the rest:¬†Ron Davis: Evangelical Universities, Gay Students and Faculty Freedom.)

I am an adjunct professor at Fuller, and I can say that, to Fuller’s credit (most notably, Kurt Frederickson‘s and Rich Mouw‘s credit), they have never attempted to silence me. They have simply asked that while I’m teaching a Fuller class, I respect their Statement of Community Standards. That seems completely reasonable, and I happy to comply with that request.


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