On National Gay-Straight Alliance Day today (25 January), Pepperdine University in Malibu finds itself under fire over its recent decision to not officially acknowledge a GSA on its campus.
A group called Reach OUT applied for club recognition last November and found out on Dec. 13 that the application had been denied.
The school's administration does not believe a GSA would be consistent with Pepperdine's mission and tradition. The independent and private university is affiliated with the Churches of Christ.
Dean of Students Mark Davis acknowledged to the student newspaper Pepperdine University Graphic that the school's relationship to the church is important but an even more important issue for them is the 'biblical conviction that sexual activity should be reserved for a husband-wife relationship.'
Said Davis: 'Pepperdine seeks to be faithful to this teaching because we believe it is God’s will. And therefore we cannot endorse another view or take a neutral position on sexual morality. Although Reach OUT stated in its application that it has no position on sexual activity, we do not believe it is possible for a LGBT student organization to maintain a neutral position.'
GSA supporters are hoping a petition on Change.org that had been signed by more than 4,700 people as of Wednesday afternoon will help sway campus officials.
'Pepperdine students often struggle to be honest about their sexual orientation because they fear rejection from their peers as well as the risk of losing their scholarships and leadership opportunities,' the petition states. 'Moreover, professors do not feel comfortable speaking on the issue, worrying that they will be denied tenure or research grants.'
'Until now, the university’s policies have created an atmosphere of silence and anxiety that alienates not only the LGBT student population but also anyone concerned for their well-being,' the petition also states.