It’s time for Christian college alumni to speak out

Today brings us two interesting stories on the LGBT students at Christian colleges front. The first is the news that women’s basketball standout Brittney Griner devotes time in her new memoir to discussing her to her experiences as a gay student at Baptist-affiliated Baylor University. This quote from Griner expresses feelings that those of us who went to Christian colleges know all too well. “I would love to be an ambassador for Baylor, to show my school pride, but it’s hard to do that. I’ve spent too much of my life being made to feel like there’s something wrong with me. And no matter how much support I felt as a basketball player at Baylor, it still doesn’t erase all the pain I felt there.” -Via Deadspin Brittney Griner was one of the best women’s college basketball players of all time, led Baylor to an undefeated season and a national championship while dominating her opponents, and yet being the most famous Baylor student wasn’t enough to protect her from an unwelcoming campus climate. The other story worth noting is today’s op-ed in The Advocate by a gay student at the Churches of Christ school, Harding University. Harding, which is best known as the alma mater of several of the Duck Dynasty progeny, states in its student handbook that sexual immorality (defined as anything other than one man and one woman in marriage) of any form is grounds for suspension. Again, not the most welcoming environment for a gay student, especially given that the conservative Christian world is incapable of separating orientation from actions in their minds. That makes Shaun Melady’s op-ed about his experiences at Harding an incredibly courageous piece to write. And, like Griner, Melady’s words are all too familiar for Christian college students. “If this were a normal[…]

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In Defense of Brandon Ambrosino

For those who don’t keep up with every bit of political chatter, Brandon Ambrosino is a gay Liberty University alumnus turned essayist whose initial claim to fame was his piece for The Atlantic on “Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University.” Since then he’s made quite the name for himself for being contrarian while writing about LGBT issues. Or, to put it more bluntly, he’s pissed an awful lot of people in the gay establishment off, arguably for good reason. I’ve certainly disagreed with Ambrosino’s opinions on more than one occasion and have told him so on Twitter. I’m not here to criticize him today though. One of the things that has bothered me in reading the coverage of his hiring by Ezra Klein’s new site Vox is how people keep criticizing him for the essay he wrote about being gay at Liberty. Here’s one such example at Media Matters, though there are a number of other liberal and progressive sites that have expressed similar criticisms. According to that narrative, Ambrosino’s essay about his time at Liberty is criticized because it is too positive about the school, insists that people weren’t homophobes, and has a generally positive view of Jerry Falwell. Apparently he’s supposed to have written about how constantly miserable and horrible it all was, and to have gone on the attack against the school, or something like that. I don’t think his critics are being fair in their attacks on him for that essay. In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably mention that both of my brothers went to Liberty, and that one was a student there at the same time Brandon was. While I don’t know Brandon, Facebook tells me that we have mutual friends, which is unsurprising given how interconnected the evangelical world is. Anybody[…]

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“You went to a Christian college, what did you expect?”

I thought I should address one of the responses that my story of the continuing saga of my censored alumni update has garnered. There’s this idea out there that if you went to a conservative Christian college that you should just expect them to behave badly and that’s that. A corollary to that idea is the one that says that says that you picked the Christian college, you shouldn’t complain about the results. I’ve got several problems with that attitude. First, as I’ve discussed before, LGBTQ campus climate issues are not just a Christian college problem. It’s a college problem. This idea that it’s just something you should expect when you go to a Christian college lets secular institutions off the hook. As a current student at a state school, I would be lying if I said that things are copacetic here. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve spent my Saturday gameday listening to the people sitting behind me scream “faggot” at the football team. Sure, the school wouldn’t tolerate it if it was reported, but who’s going to report a bunch of students whose identities you don’t know? That’s not even going into all of the discussions I’ve had with other students about how the overall student body atmosphere at the law school feels unwelcoming. Having a supportive administration and faculty with policies in place doesn’t mean that there aren’t significant problems to work on. Going to a state school, that’s not something I expected, but it’s what I got. The campus climate problems may be different at Christian colleges than secular ones, but don’t kid yourself, the environment can be pretty bad at state schools too. I don’t want my criticism of how Covenant handled my alumni update situation and the erasing of LGBT alumni[…]

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Covenant College censored my alumni update

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? -Micah 6:8, KJV When I was asked at the start of last spring semester whether I would be interested in assisting on research for an amicus brief in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases set to be argued before the Supreme Court later that spring, I jumped at the chance. Not only is it something that I’m personally and professionally proud of, as having the opportunity to play even a miniscule role in a major case is something that most people don’t get, it was something that I believe as a Christian was the right thing to do. Do justice. Love mercy. The brief I worked on dealt with the way that the laws negatively affect children raised by LGBT parents, and how those laws negatively affect LGBT youth, their sense of self and their ability to imagine a future for themselves. More specifically, I worked on a team with several other law students to coauthor a survey to capture the voices of LGBT youth and young adults, and our paper is cited in the amicus brief. The responses that poured in were heartbreaking. Kids sharing their stories of growing up and realizing they were different, and the fear and worry about whether their future relationships would be treated as legitimate by the government, feeling that they were lesser because of the law. Yet, in all that, hope that someday things might change. Kids daring to dream that there might be a future where they could build a life for themselves as equal citizens. I worked to provide justice for those kids. As you can see, my work on[…]

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