By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer
Four students have volunteered to work with Baylor Student Life to have a role in creating the official LGBTQ student group, according to Dr. Sharra Hynes, assistant vice president of student life.
Hynes said that the students will create a charter application for the group and that she is “hopeful” the application will be completed and submitted soon, although there is no specific timeframe.
Hynes said Baylor held listening sessions over the course of last semester to hear what students would need in order to increase “care, community and connection” for LGBTQ students on campus.
“We want every student at Baylor to find a place of belonging and connection,” Hynes said. “I think that’s the beauty of being in a caring, Christian community. We know that our LGBTQ students have had some challenges in finding that within an official channel from the university. There are students who will hopefully, if the chartering process is successful, will find their community through this group.”
While Hynes said it is still too early to envision what the new group will look like and what activities it would engage in, she said she is confident it will be a place of community for LGBTQ students. She also said Student Activities hopes to meet with the volunteers on a regular basis to establish a mission and purpose for the new group and to create a charter application.
Plano junior Alex Gonzalez, external chair of Gamma Alpha Upsilon, said a member of Gamma’s board was one of the four students who volunteered to help create the new group. He said he trusts the students who volunteered to create the group.
“I’m a little excited; I’m just curious to see what happens with it,” Gonzalez said. “I think Baylor is making the right choice in letting queer people lead the charge.”
Gonzalez said he was initially apprehensive about the possible new group, but over the course of the listening sessions, he said he became more optimistic given that Student Life created an open dialogue, listened to students and seemed to want to create a supportive space for LGBTQ students.
While Gonzalez said he thinks the new group signifies progress being made, he said there is a split in the queer community at Baylor over the group, as some students are concerned the group would not affirm students’ sexuality due to Baylor’s Statement on Human Sexuality.
Spring senior Brit LaVergne, Gamma president, defined affirming as wholeheartedly accepting a person’s identity. She said the new group cannot be an affirming group since it operates under the framework of the Human Sexuality Statement.
“Affirming theology is this idea that God doesn’t make mistakes,” LaVergne said. “Therefore, God made me gay, God made me trans, because it is not a sin. Identifying the biblical understanding of sexuality as only a man and a woman — it just makes it not affirming.”
LaVergne said she believes Baylor can eventually become an affirming community, but that first faculty should take a sensitivity training course on LGBTQ issues.
“I do believe that anything having to do with professors not calling students their chosen pronouns, that needs to be immediately and directly,” LaVergne said. “There’s no reason why a professor can ask me if I want to be called Brittany or Brit on my first day, but they can’t make sure my friend stopped being called by their dead name. While I do believe that Baylor can offer a supportive community for queer students — at least a safe community for queer students on campus — if it’s not affirming, then I don’t believe the people that are in charge are going to protect me in the way that I need to be protected.”