Gay voices continue to strive to be heard and respected at Harding University, the conservative, Church of Christ-affiliated institution in Searcy. A publication by LGBTQ students there reports a new school policy seemingly targeting them.
We reported last spring on the re-launch of a publication and website dedicated to gay rights issues at Harding. Now the Hear Queer Voices blog reports on an apparent addition to the schools’ sexual harassment policy. The policy expresses the right of students to be free from sexual discrimination and harassment. It also says, emphasis supplied:
“Sexual harassment is generally understood to include a wide range of behaviors, from the actual coercing of sexual relations to the unwelcome or inappropriate emphasizing of sexual identity. This definition will be interpreted and applied consistent with Christian standards of behavior and conduct.”
Gay students suspect this targets them. In short: If you must be gay, stay in the closet.
Writes the blogger:
Students on campus are now terrified that even stating our sexual identity could be classified as harassment (after all, who defines “unwelcome and inappropriate”? Or “Christian standards”?).
It’s an interesting article, including an anonymously sourced report on purported remarks by the school president to faculty on how to respond to gay students on campus — for example: don’t “affirm” those who believe they have same-sex attraction feelings but are celibate. And a suggestion that those hoping for the hire of LGBTQ professors or wanting to hold gay pride parades should go elsewhere.
The article also addresses the question of why a gay person would want to stay in an unwelcoming environment.
While I cannot speak for all LGBTQ+ students, I can say that some did not choose Harding. Some chose Harding without realizing the severity of the oppression here. Some chose to go here, then discovered their identity/orientation while attending. Some of us actually REALLY love Harding. If you really love something, and see its potential, why would we not try to make things better?