Students at Seattle Pacific University End Sit-In, Plan to Sue Over LGBTQ Exclusion

Por Alejandra Molina
seattle pacific protest
People demonstrate at Seattle Pacific University, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, after the Board of Trustees recently decided to retain a policy that prohibits the hiring of LGBTQ people. (Video screen grab via Twitter/Jeanie Lindsay)

Students from Seattle Pacific University, a Christian school associated with the Free Methodist Church, have ended their more than month-long sit-in protesting the board of trustees’ decision to uphold a policy prohibiting the hiring of LGBTQ people. They are now planning legal action against the trustees.

“The board has elected to refuse our demands, meaning we will be moving forward with litigation. This is not a decision that we take lightly, but it is a decision we believe will protect the future of our university,” the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific said Friday in a statement publicado en instagram.

Tracy Norlen, a spokesperson for Seattle Pacific University, stated to media in an e-mail on Friday afternoon that there were no plans to change the university’s “employee lifestyle expectations,” which the dissenting students have described as homophobic and discriminatory.

As of Saturday afternoon, the student group has helped raise more than $35,000 through GoFundMe to cover legal fees.

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Students participating in the sit-in, which began in late May, had given the board of trustees until July 1 to rescind the hiring policy. On Friday night, as the sit-in concluded, students hung paper hearts from the ceiling and walls of the building where the protest took place. There were 924 paper hearts in the “Heartfelt Reactions” display, representing the hours spent protesting the policy.

The display is a nod to the board of trustees’ statement in late May noting that their decision to retain the policy, “which brings complex and heart-felt reactions,” was made in order for the university to “remain in communion” with the Free Methodist Church USA.

seattle pacific sit in
People participate in the third day of a sit-in at Seattle Pacific University, May 26, 2022, after the board of trustees recently decided to retain a policy that prohibits the hiring of LGBTQ people. (Photo via Twitter/@SPUisGay)

At issue is the school’s employee lifestyle expectation policy that states, in part, that “employees are expected to refrain from sexual behavior that is inconsistent with the University’s understanding of Biblical standards, including cohabitation, extramarital sexual activity, and same-sex sexual activity.”

The Associated Students of Seattle Pacific on Friday posted a letter on Instagram from Board Chair Dean Kato that was addressed to sit-in representatives.

“We acknowledge there is a disagreement among people of faith on the topic of sexuality and identity. But after careful and prayerful deliberation, we believe these longstanding employee expectations are consistent with the University’s mission and Statement of Faith that reflect a traditional view on biblical marriage and sexuality, as an expression of long-held orthodox church teaching,” the letter reads.

The Associated Students of Seattle Pacific, in the same Instagram post, said they “remain committed to pushing forward with the knowledge that God’s love is too big for small ideologies.”

In April 2021 the university’s faculty took a vote of no confidence in its board of trustees after members of the board declined to change the hiring policy. The no-confidence vote was approved by 72% of the faculty. In the aftermath, a campus work group was assigned to explore how the university could better address issues involving gender and sexual orientation, according to The Seattle Times.

But before the trustees could vote on the campus work group’s recommendations, the Free Methodist Church USA issued a statement making clear the school would no longer be in communion with the church if it changed the hiring policy to be inclusive of those in same-sex marriages.

Chloe Guillot, who graduated last month, told RNS in June that their suit will be against the board of trustees, not the university.

“It’s not about the university being homophobic because, ultimately, the university is not. The university has been kept back by this board of trustees,” Guillot said.

Alejandra MolinaAlejandra Molina es reportera nacional de Religion News Service.

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17 pensamientos sobre “Students at Seattle Pacific University End Sit-In, Plan to Sue Over LGBTQ Exclusion”

  1. Clearly these protesters are clearly not even close to Christian’s , but fake Christian’s that are infiltrating the body of Christ that corrupts the church

    The LBGQT is clearly corrupt and a perversion of sins

    It needs no more explanation and the governing bodies should never give in to these corrupt fake so called Christian’s

    1. I pray the board of trustees postures up…digs in…and holds their ground. Having spent nearly 15 years on campus…in residency for under/graduate/post degrees…not once did I or any of my colleagues demand or try to dictate how the institution was governed…we submitted. If you didn’t like something you could leave. As my marching band instructor used to say “I’d rather have 60 members in straight lines than 100 members in crooked lines”. Homosexuality is crooked…ie..”perverse”. SPU needs to go for straight lines and seek the blessing of the Shekinah Glory. SDG

  2. Melisa Fernández

    Radical leftists are corrupting every institution in our republic. The saddest part to me is the fact that a lot of these students come from fairly conservative, Christian homes. Their families are paying good money for their children to receive a conservative, Christian education.
    LGBT educators can teach at ANY secular university. There is no reason for them to want to teach at a Christian school unless it is for the purpose of pushing the gay agenda.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree. I’m sickened by the moral corruption that has infiltrated this so called Christian school’s faculty and student body. Tolerance ultimately leads to corruption. It appears to me that this school has lost its way and is no longer in the Faith. The Trustees seem more concerned about losing their “communion” with the Methodist denomination, than in upholding God’s Truth.

  3. Why is it so important to these specific progressive students that it must be SPU that meets their demands? Was SPU not forthcoming about its religious identity and what that implies? Is your continued enrollment at this school being coerced?

    There are plenty of other church-founded private liberal arts schools of similar size and scope in the Pacific Northwest that are to varying degrees more progressive on sex and gender questions: Whitworth, Whitman, PLU, UPS, Willamette, just to name a few.

    And, of course, there are all the secular private and public universities and colleges in Washington and Oregon where anyone can identify (almost) any way they want to. Where almost (but not quite) anything goes, as long as it’s (provably in a potential Title IX or campus disciplinary hearing) consensual and/or not (perceived as) an abuse of power or privilege.

    As to the tension between SPU’s faculty and trustees: Did the dissenting faculty members not understand that they were agreeing to take a paycheck from—and build a career at—a religious institution tied to a theologically conservative denomination?

    As regards the threatened legal action against the trustees, I would point out that those trustees are acting on behalf of a private, religious institution that seems to want to keep that identity. Or at least enough of its donors and leaders do. And the denomination has laid down its expectations, if the school wants to continue to affiliate. It would be interesting to hear what legal standing the students think they have to bring such action, beyond mere legal harassment.

    1. Kristen McLaren

      Highly recommend you listen to Becket Cook’s podcast (or YouTube channel) to help understand why… He clearly outlines the very clear strategy taken by the LGBTQ… agenda which includes infiltrating religious institutions to push for full affirmation. Praying SPU holds firm. Institutions such as APU and GCU which have capitulated are now struggling to right the ship… much easier to stay the course in the first place than try to turn it around when the tide of secular culture is behind it.

  4. I love it the way the depraved regressives throw around their scare words like they have any lexical gravity. Homophobic? Not when all fear of homosexual activity and culture is completely rational! Perhaps the word should be ‘homomisony’. Not fear, but repulsion. Thus any discrimination against such activity or its promotion is entirely justified. But like any human rejection of our true humanity, all who see to repent are welcome.

  5. It’s nice to see a mainline denomination standing up for fidelity to scripture. I wonder though if this site intends for this article to be an indictment against the school. Hard to say

    1. Point of respectful clarification: the Free Methodist Church is not mainline. They broke away from what eventually became mainline Methodism around 1860. Today, they are for the most part evangelical with some charismatic elements.

      I’m honestly not sure how well SPU fits the movement anymore; the relationship between faculty and leadership seems broken, and the students threatening legal action sure seem confused about what kind of school they freely signed up for.

    2. Brian patricio

      Marty Feroli,

      I share your concerns. Julie herself chimed in to say she was just reporting the news, so… I dunno.

  6. marca dinsmore

    Tragically, as the events of the past two years have demonstrated, this generation is one of “wise fools” who are “backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents”—proving that history does rhyme, and that the world is once again ripe for God’s judgment. As the Apostle Paul declares in Romans 1:21-32,

    “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, …Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

    “And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting . . . who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

    The Bible could not be any more clear. Neither is there any more fitting description of the heart and mind of these students and others like them. This is the fruit of replacing the God of Creation with the lie of Darwinian Evolution.

    1. I didn’t see any mention of being left wing or right wing, especially in a political sense!

      8. But you yourselves wrong and cheat, and you do this to your brothers and sisters!
      9. Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals,
      10. thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Cor 6:8-10, NETfree)

      The Free Methodist Church theologically correct in their actions.

  7. travis hutchinson

    It appears that the battle may have already been largely lost as 72% of faculty have signed onto a no confidence vote over their long-standing policy. This means almost 3/4 of the faculty disagree with orthodox teaching on sex and sexuality. The camel’s nose is already under the tent. Kudos to the trustees for holding the line, but if they don’t have orthodox faculty, they are ultimately doomed.

  8. Rhonda C Merrick

    This should serve as a warning to EVERY board of trustees, or rather, every alumni of Christian colleges, to be involved enough to know if the administration is letting in faculty who are compromising in their values and in their teaching. I’m honestly surprised that the board held firm, but it’s now up to the alumni to show their support for this move. Legally, what leg do these students have to stand on? It may not really matter, if the goal is just to harass the school and cost the institution money.

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