By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer
After 10 years of Gamma Alpha Upsilon applying to be a chartered organization, its president announced at an LGBTQ protest Thursday night that it will no longer be seeking to become an official Baylor organization.
The protest took place on Fountain Mall and featured many LGBTQ student speakers. Around 50 students, faculty and staff attended, including vice president for Student Life Dr. Kevin Jackson.
The Board of Regents released a resolution on May 14 with the possibility of creating a new LGBTQ group at Baylor “that is consistent with Baylor’s core commitments … and the university’s policies and statements.”
“We recognize that Baylor’s LGBTQ students continue to seek care, connections and community on our campus and a sense of belonging within the Baylor Family,” the resolution said. “As an important and faithful expression of our Christian mission, we desire to establish trust with our LGBTQ students so that, among other things, they might seek out the resources provided by Baylor.”
McGregor junior Josh Reed said during the protest that LGBTQ students do not want to talk to administration about a new group.
“This talk that Baylor is going to start a new place for our community — I was apprehensive when I first heard this and I still am against it,” Reed said. “Gamma Alpha Upsilon has been here for years. This is a space we made for ourselves. The marginalized will always make space for themselves … We know how to love us best. Baylor, we do not need you to make space for us. We have already made it for ourselves against all odds. It is thriving — yes, hundreds of members. We have tailored it to our needs, and we just need you to acknowledge it. How is it that y’all are not even doing the bare minimum, and you’re still doing too much?”
Reed said evangelical Christians’ responses to his identity always compare being gay to addiction, murder and pedophilia.
“I will not let you attack my identity under the guise of biblical intellectualism,” Reed said. “My identity is not a playground for your political discourse. You have no conception of the anger and pain you cause with your respectful disagreement.”
Spring senior and Gamma president Brit LaVergne said Gamma will now apply to become a nonprofit instead of seeking chartership.
“That way, we can have more longevity and more people involved, including alumni and faculty and staff,” LaVergne said. “I think it will give us a lot more room.”
LaVergne said a few students in Gamma have received emails from administration asking to meet and talk about ideas for the new LGBTQ group. She said she has not been contacted yet.
Plano junior and Gamma external chair Alex Gonzalez said during his speech that Baylor needs to take a stand and affirm LGBTQ people.
“The organization that’s in the biggest closet of all is Baylor itself,” Gonzalez said. “Them not being able to decide where they stand — do they love their students or their donors more?”
Shreveport, Louis., junior Veronica Penales said during the protest that students need to continue to hold administration accountable.
“Call it a movement, call it a rebellion, call it whatever you want,” Penales said. “But I can promise you all that this fight will not end until … the LGBTQIA+ community on this campus is finally granted the love, support and rights that it deserves.”
Katy freshman Maya Rao said she was proud of Gamma for choosing to grow its community instead of trying to get chartered again.
“It doesn’t matter if we are official or not,” Rao said. “It matters that we exist on campus and that we’re supporting each other.”
Katy sophomore Dune Dawson said LGBTQ students feel unwelcome at Baylor.
“I felt like it was so important for us to have this kind of meeting and have the representation that we deserve because people need to realize that we’re human just like them and that we deserve the same rights that they do,” Dawson said. “We deserve equality. We deserve the inclusion.”