If you’re a Covenant College student, you may have heard by now that Covenant applied for and received a Title IX exemption granting the school permission to legally discriminate against LGBT students. As a Covenant grad I’ve got a few things I’d like you to know. To the straight students, whatever you may believe about the morality of same-sex relationships or attraction, or about gender identity, please remember this. Some of your friends and classmates may be hurting and feeling unwelcome at the school that they call home because of this news. You may not know that the friend you eat breakfast with or sit next to in class is one of those students. Be sensitive and compassionate in what you say because you don’t know who you could be hurting because of your words. Whatever your theological beliefs on this, remember that Jesus modeled love and compassion for the marginalized. To the LGBT students, whether you’re out or not, whether you believe that this is a temptation you have to struggle against or you’ve decided that it’s something you can embrace, know this. God loves you, and no matter how constraining the Covenant bubble may feel, there is a whole big world off the mountain. I’m not saying that what you’re feeling and experiencing now isn’t hard, because the stuff you go through in college is very real and when you’re in a closed bubble everything is magnified. It can definitely suck big time. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, no matter how much Covenant and the PCA can feel like all there is, there are so many options out there for you. If you need to get away from the bubble for a while to maintain your mental health, don’t feel bad about[…]

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*Pats self on back*

See that right there? That’s my work being cited in the Family Equality Council, et al. amicus brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. Needless to say, I’m pretty happy about it, a lot of late nights went in to the project when the four of us put it together for a Family Equality Council amicus brief in Perry and Windsor.  It’s not often that one gets the chance to leave their fingerprints on history and I’m grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to play a small part.  There is a dark cloud hovering in the background, though. This is yet another accomplishment that Covenant College is going to refuse to acknowledge. Doesn’t matter if the brief managed to swing Scalia and Thomas to vote for equality in a unanimous Supreme Court decision (not gonna happen, but a girl can dream), my alma mater isn’t going to acknowledge it. Because acknowledgement equals endorsement and we can’t have that.  Not going to lie, it hurts. It would be nice to have something positive happen without having any reason that my happiness is tarnished.  Maybe someday.

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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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Link Roundup: What others are saying about the continuing saga of my alumni update

I would be lying if I said that the continuing saga of my censored Covenant College alumni update hasn’t been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I try to pretend that things don’t bother me, but the truth is that from getting my copy of the View and finding my update censored, to the communications I’ve had with Covenant, to the stress of wondering what kind of reaction I’d get to going public, it’s been a long month or so.  Thus far, Covenant has been silent in response to my post, I suspect that it’s going to remain that way. Covenant isn’t Michael Farris and Patrick Henry College, with their unique talent of responding the exact wrong way, they’re far more skilled at PR than that. Other people have picked up the story though. My friend Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism mentioned the censorship in her post It Matters Too Much Not to Speak, about the importance of speaking up against homophobic comments, though since at that time I was still holding out hope that Covenant would reconsider, it’s mentioned under a pseudonym. When I decided that I needed to go public, she volunteered to repost it at at LJF, which I greatly appreciate. My original post is also reposted at Believe Out Loud. Many thanks to them for that. What’s more than a little bit surreal and mind blowing to me is that the story got picked up by major gay blog Towleroad. It was kind of crazy to wake up and check my site stats and see that I was getting a bunch of hits from there.  And, last but definitely not least, fellow one-time PCA kid Evan Hurst covered the story for Truth Wins Out. Hurst gets it like only someone who grew up in the PCA could. And, in what is entirely coincidental,[…]

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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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Concurrence

Wednesday I was busy trying to put together a (belated) National Coming Out Day panel for next week (nobody who can avoid it sets foot on campus on a Friday), emailing with the director of admissions about a diversity recruitment email that’s going out to prospective students in my name as the president of OUTLaw, while also working on setting up a meeting with the VP for Student Development where I went for undergrad. It was entirely coincidental that I happened to be working on all of those things at the same time, but it was kind of an interesting concurrence. Whether it’s the panel, the diversity recruitment effort, or the ongoing conversation with my alma mater, it’s all really about creating a campus climate that feels safe for LGBTQ students so that nobody feels the need to hide.  Campus climate isn’t a Christian college issue, or a state school issue, or private school or public school issue. Some schools do things better than others, but I doubt there’s any school out there that has a perfect climate where every LGBTQ student feels totally safe and supported all of the time. And so, on this National Coming Out Day, let’s work toward creating campuses where the climate is such that even the most timid of kids can feel safe to come out and be out.

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Can you go home again?

Next week I’ll be heading back up the mountain for Covenant’s homecoming. It’s my 10 year class reunion and the first time I’ll have been back up the mountain since I graduated. For the longest time I never really had a desire to go back, I think because even though I loved my time there and it helped shape me into the person I am today, by the time I graduated the Covenant bubble had started feeling like a too-small echo chamber. I needed time and distance and the haze of nostalgia to soften the edges of my emotions. Covenant was my home for four years. My professors influenced my thinking in so many ways, something I’ve been reminded of this semester as my Social Justice Lawyering class keeps covering territory made familiar during my time at Covenant. That emphasis on justice that I picked up there, from classes to chapel to student clubs, is something that I’ve since realized is unique for conservative Christian colleges. Some day I’m going to write more on that. Also, oddly enough, given the stereotypes about conservative Christian schools, the longer I’m at UF the more I appreciate just how much Covenant fostered an environment where differences and oddities were celebrated. UF feels constraining in comparison.  As I think about heading back for homecoming, I’m excited, but I’m also more than a little bit nervous. For as much as I say that Covenant made me who I am, teaching me how to let my faith influence all of my life, I’m not the same person I was when I graduated ten year ago. So much has changed in my life, I’ve changed so much, and while Covenant set me on this path I had no idea a decade ago I’d end up where I am[…]

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Nothing disappears from the Internet

I google myself from time to time to keep track of what’s out there with my name on it. In searching the other day, I came across a post that I had written on the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood discussion listserv back in college. I forget exactly why I had joined the group, I think because I was writing some sort of paper for doctrine on something related to submission and headship and wanted to be sure I understood the best version of the complementarian argument. I thought I’d repost part of what I wrote in that post back in 2001 because in reading it I can see the wheels turning in my head as I began to realize the whole thing was bunk. I think that attempting to equate the equality of men and women with the mathematical concept of equality is missing the point. Up to the point that I subscribed to this list, I was under the impression that complementarians thought that men and women were equal. Not that they have the same roles, and not that it means that there is no one in authority, but that as human beings created in God’s image, they are equal. The example that I have always heard is that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all equal in that they are all equally God, but that in position, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit submit to the will of God the Father. In the same way, men and women are created as equal in their essence, but positionally, the husband is in authority in the home, and the man is in authority in the church. It’s a question of position, not that they are created to be inherently unequal. It’s just like saying that my boss is in a position of authority[…]

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I’ve had no desire to head back to the mountain since graduating from Covenant, but lately I’ve been feeling nostalgic about visiting. I think if the timing works out I might head back for homecoming in the fall. Is that what being out of undergrad for nearly a decade does to you?

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