As more students come out at evangelical colleges, administrators are cracking down on campus groups and faculty who give them support. A new advocacy group wants to change that.
This week, while international LGBT rights advocates continue to spotlight repressive anti-gay policies and violence in Russia, some are focusing their protests closer to home.
Friday morning in Los Angeles, a new LGBT support coalition for Christian college students and alumni, Safety Net, is launching publicly with a prayer vigil protest of a meeting of hundreds of Christian college administrators. The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), representing 119 U.S. evangelical and fundamentalist higher education institutions and 55 international affiliates, is holding its quadrennial conference in LA, this year focused on the theme of “Engaged Community.”
But in the past four years, the community around Christian colleges is starting to change in significant ways, growing to include a number of public and private groups for gay and transgender students and alumni. Carrying a banner for Safety Net and wearing college sweatshirts from schools like Wheaton College, Biola University and Fuller Theological Seminary, around 25 alumni and former faculty will gather to declare that “we’re part of this community, too.”
Safety Net is launching as an umbrella coalition for LGBT groups at 50 Christian colleges, including organizations like BJUnity (for Bob Jones University alumni and students), OneWheaton, OneGeorgeFox (George Fox University), and Biola Queer Underground. Most of the alumni groups are public, but around a third of the groups, mostly representing current students, are “underground,” not disclosing members’ identity for fear of expulsion, losing financial aid or students’ families cutting them off.