A conservative, evangelical college in the United States will now allow LGBTI people to express their relationships on campus.
Azusa Pacific University (APU) in California recently overturned its ban on LGBTI relationships, by taking out language in its student standard of conduct agreement.
Student paper, Zu News, reported the policy backflip and also revealed the university has also created a special LGBTI program.
But the college will still retain its official stance on marriage that ‘sexual union is intended by God to take place only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman’.
‘The changes that occurred to the handbooks around sexual behavior creates one standard for all undergraduate students, as opposed to differential standards for different groups,’ Associate Dean of Students Bill Fiala told Zu.
‘The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn’t. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality.’
Haven’s hard work
APU’s policy change came after years of dialogue between the college and its ‘underground’ student LGBTI group, Haven. LGBTI organization, Brave Commons, helped Haven in its lobbying of the university.
‘We thought it was unfair to single out queer folks in same-sex romantic relationships while it is impossible to enforce or monitor [whether other students are remaining abstinent],’ said Brave Commons co-executive director, Erin Green.
‘Queer students are just as able to have romanticized relationships that abide by APU’s rules. The code used falsely assumed that same-sex romances always involved sexual behavior. This stigmatization causes harm to our community, especially those serious about their Christian faith.’
The Office of Student Life has also worked to launch a safe space and program for LGBTI students. Launching at the beginning of this year’s academic year and features weekly meetings.