What would Jesus do? Make space for LGBTQ+ students

By Paige Hardy | Contributor

I woke up in my apartment after Easter break thinking about Christ’s resurrection. As a religion major, I am so glad to attend a university where I can study the complexities of the resurrection without fear of being ridiculed for my questions. Well, for the most part.

Today, I feel an uncomfortable stirring in my soul. We call Christ a liberator, the one who freed us from our chains. Not only the chains of sin we put upon ourselves, but also the chains others have used to keep us down. Jesus did not silence the voices of the harlots and tax collectors; He lifted them up. He did not reward the prideful religious, but the humble outcast. Christ saved all of humanity: Jew and Gentile; man and woman; gay and straight.

So if we as a university are “unambiguously Christian” and rejoice in His life and resurrection, why do we continue to silence the voices of our LGBTQ+ students? Over the past 11 days, nearly 3,000 alumni, faculty, staff and students have asked the same question by signing a petition supporting the chartering of LGBTQ+ organizations on campus.

I have heard the arguments from the religious right that groups that do not align with Baylor’s human sexuality statement should not be allowed to organize on campus. But why have we chosen this hill to die on? The Bible clearly speaks against divorce, yet the university hires many divorced faculty and our law school even teaches classes on divorce law. The Bible speaks against premarital sex, but we teach classes on human sexuality that contradict those verses. Why? Because we recognize differing theological interpretations and do not want to limit a student’s education by picking a side.

And although Baylor claims to allow organizations a degree of freedom of speech for ideas the university does not necessarily endorse, that privilege is never extended to LGBTQ+ students. These students are not asking for a campus-sponsored pride parade or for Burt Burleson to perform gay weddings; they’re asking for a space to meet openly. They’re asking for a room. If I remember correctly, our Savior once said, “My Father’s house has many rooms” (John 14:2). Yet we still allow archaic interpretations of a few verses to determine who we have room for on campus. Many in the mid-20th century relied on similar interpretations of scriptures to justify Baylor’s policy of white-only admissions. I wonder how long it will take for us to feel the same shame for our current homophobic practices as we do our past segregative ones.

Two weeks ago, a bill passed which I presented to Student Senate asking the university to allow LGBTQ+ groups to organize at Baylor. Despite a bill passed by the body created explicitly to represent students and a supporting petition presented with nearly 3,000 signatures, administration has not responded. They remain silent as lesbian students walk to class and see posters of a gay pride flag embellished with a hammer and sickle, next to a literal stamp of approval from Baylor Student Activities. They remain silent as transgendered students wonder if they will lose their scholarship if they ask to change their name on Canvas. They remain silent as slurs are yelled out car windows at gay students walking home from the library. How much longer will silence reign while the voices of hate are magnified?

Paige is a senior journalism and religion double major from San Antonio.