Call for reinterpretation of Baylor’s Statement on Human Sexuality passes in Student Senate

The "No Crying on Sundays Resolution" passed Thursday asking the Board of Regents to reinterpret the Statement on Human Sexuality, which would clear the way for Gamma Alpha Upsilon to be chartered on campus. Brittney Matthews | Photo Editor

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

The Student Senate passed the “No Crying on Sundays” resolution on Thursday evening 30-15 after an arduous debate. The bill potentially opens the door for LGBTQ groups like Gamma Alpha Upsilon to become officially chartered, but only if Baylor’s administration feels inclined to act.

The “No Crying on Sundays” resolution calls for a reinterpretation of the Statement on Human Sexuality and asks for a nondiscrimination clause to be added to Student Organizations Policies and Procedures.

“Student Government recommends that Baylor University formally and publicly announce the ability for LGBTQ+ groups to be recognized as fully chartered student organizations,” the bill said.

The Statement on Human Sexuality has not been updated since 2009. It specifies that Baylor supports the biblical “norm:” marital heterosexual relationships.

“Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching,” Baylor’s statement on Human Sexuality says.

Boerne sophomore Addison Knight and Shreveport, La., sophomore Veronica Penales, both senators, read the bill they co-authored and argued their case to the senate.

“Senator Knight and I wrote this bill, not with the intent to change the identity of Baylor as a Baptist university, but rather with the desire to have Baylor leadership realize the need for Baylor to reinterpret its human sexuality statement so that it is no longer antithetical to Baylor’s overall mission statement and commitment to diversity and inclusivity, but we cannot achieve our goal of ending the discrimination of these individuals on this campus without the help of Student Senate,” Penales said.

After a series of questions from the senate about the bill, the debate began. Pros and cons were brought up about the bill, and each senator was allowed to speak twice.

Woodway senior Senator Greg Welch said during the debate the bill should not be passed just so LGBTQ student organizations can become officially chartered since they already have the right to meet on campus.

“It’s asking us to betray the university’s faith statement, mission statement and statement on human sexuality,” Welch said.

Many of the pros brought up with the bill were related to loving all people and giving the LGBTQ community a safe space at Baylor. Plano freshman Senator Bethel Tesfai said the student government does not get to choose which minorities it represents. It has to represent all of Baylor.

“Some of you might not understand what it’s like being a minority on a college campus, so let me tell you, organizations like this not only create a sense of community, but they help find other students who you can connect to a support group if you need it,” Tesfai said. “Without organizations like that, minorities are susceptible to depression, anxiety and multiple other mental illnesses. How do you know that you don’t have a closeted friend or classmate or neighbor? This organization could help students like that, and it’s not fair to deny these students a safe haven because of your personal beliefs that might not match theirs.”

Another con mentioned was from Austin sophomore Hunter Walker, who said he has a different perspective on how to show love.

“As disheartening as it is that there are people on our campus who feel this way, to vote against this does not mean that we are discriminating against them in the sense that we hate them,” Walker said. “I’m showing love in a way that says, ‘I want to call you higher,’ in the same way that I would expect my peers to call me to a higher … As Christians we believe that we are not perfect, but we should strive for sanctification, and I would hope that people keep me accountable for that call, and I’m asking you all to consider the same.”

Baylor has expressed support for the student government. Vice President for Marketing & Communications and Chief Marketing Officer Jason Cook said the university is committed to continuing conversations to support LGBTQ students.

“The resolution passed by the Senate is non-binding, as the decision-making authority related to this matter lies with the university administration, and ultimately, the Board of Regents. Both previously have made a strong public commitment to provide a loving and caring community for Baylor’s LGBTQ+ students. This commitment remains unchanged today, as it is embodied in Baylor’s mission that calls us to educate students within a caring community,” Cook said.

Gamma Alpha Upsilon is going through with its plan to apply for a charter Friday, Portland senior and President of Gamma Alpha Upsilon Emma Fraley said.

Fraley said she is excited the bill passed, but it still doesn’t feel real that this year they have a better chance to become an official group on campus after nearly a decade as an unofficial group previously known as Sexual Identity Forum.

“This is something that we’ve done for the last 10 years, and I wasn’t getting my hopes up too high,” Fraley said. “We’re working so hard, and we’ve got a lot of really important people on our side, so you know this certainly could be it.”

Penales and Knight said they are relieved the bill passed, but Friday, their work continues. Penales said they will release a petition for the student body to sign as their next step before they reach out to President Linda Livingstone and the Board of Regents.

Veronica Penales and Addison Knight are releasing a petition for the student body to sign to show their support for chartering LGBTQ groups on campus.
Veronica Penales and Addison Knight are releasing a petition for the student body to sign to show their support for chartering LGBTQ groups on campus. Courtesy art provided made by McKenna Louth and by Veronica Penales and Addison Knight.

“We have a few points about what exactly what to do; including Baylor University needs to charter Gamma, and then reinterpret the human sexuality statement to add that nondiscriminatory clause, and apologize to the LGBTQ community for the discrimination,” Penales said.