LGBTQ Students are Now Speaking Out at Christian Colleges

What would happen if a student at an evangelical Christian college announced that he was gay by posting a notice on a public bulletin board? Ten years ago, he may have been harassed or accused of violating the college’s moral code. But in 2010, when Wheaton College student Benjamin Matthews publicly came out of the closet, the reaction was more subdued.

Matthews said that several other male students came out to him after his revelation, and other students seemed mostly ambivalent. “I don’t think most Wheaton students knew what to do because they’ve been given ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ rhetoric, but they don’t know how that plays out in real life [...] They would mostly just listen, nod, and say, ‘Yeah man, that’s hard’” (CNN Belief Blog).

Wheaton College, an elite evangelical college in the Chicago suburbs, expects its students to live by a strict moral code that prohibits them from having sex outside of marriage, including homosexual activities. But in February, the college approved an official group, Refuge, that serves as a resource for students questioning their sexual identities.

Wheaton isn’t the only conservative school to open up positive dialogue about sexual orientation. As more politicians and religious leaders change their stance on gay marriage and the morality of homosexuality, higher education institutions must follow suit — or risk alienating current and prospective students.

One invaluable resource for LGBTQ students and alumni of conservative Christian colleges is Voiceless, an organization that moderates “dialogue between Christians, the LGBTQ community, and all of us who find ourselves standing awkwardly in between.” Schools that have a chapter in Voiceless include Hope College in Michigan, Ozark Christian College in Missouri, and Brigham Young University in Utah, along with dozens of others.

Colleges must support their students

I attended St. Olaf College in Minnesota, which was founded by Lutheran Norwegian immigrants. Although not an evangelical school, St. Olaf still encourages daily chapel attendance, enforces a dry campus policy and requires all students to take a class that focuses on Bible reading and interpretation.

The school also supports the active GLBTQ community on campus by providing resources for GLBTQ groups, maintaining an open and communicative culture, and hosting events such as the annual Drag Ball, which is attended by large numbers of both gay and straight students. By supporting a diverse community of students, St. Olaf is, for the most part, able to balance its Christian heritage and values with the more liberal social lifestyle of many of its students.

The key for any student to be successful at a college or university is to feel like he or she is accepted. As gay rights continue to progress, evangelical colleges will find that more and more of their students are unwilling to accept such rigid social contracts.

Paul Southwick of the Huffington Post urges GLBTQ students to assert themselves through organized groups to gain respect and support. It is possible to be both gay and Christian, and soon all evangelical colleges will have to come to terms with that fact.

Related Stories:

Why Are Young People Leaving Evangelical Christianity?

Condoms? Not for Our Students, Says Boston College

No Gay Students at My College, Chancellor Proclaims


Photo credit: SMBCollege


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

While you are at a school you should abide by their rules.

William Meade
William Meade5 years ago

maybe its the best college in there area ?

Lynda Duke
Lynda Duke5 years ago

But..........Evangelical colleges promote one form of behavior, so why are LGBTQ students enrolling in Christian colleges? Just to be difficult? Just to cause a scene? These colleges don't have to accept Gay students. They don't have to change their ways. I keep asking this question - why not go to a school that accepts and promotes LGBTQ forums! I have asked in the past, why are Gays trying to break into a church dogma, when they can build their own? Yes, I know that's being a separatist - but Churches won't change, not in this day and age. And we shouldn't expect them to do so. Just getting them to back off Laws against Gays is a hard task, but to demand churches change their dogma could be going too far.

Vicky P.
Vicky P5 years ago

good for them for speaking out, it will be a tough fight, but eventually people will accept.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

I don't understand gay religious people, but at least these schools are making major progress.

Christopher Fowler

Fact of the matter is that homosexuality is a natural thing. It occurs in more species than homophobia exists in and in more human cultures than homophobia exists in.

Only in extremist religious orthodoxy is there a real problem. It is also the root of the problems with bigotry against the LGBTQ community.

It was not until about 600years ago when the Christian church stopped performing gay weddings. That was a socio-political decision.

Christina B.
Christina B5 years ago

Thank you for the great article (this is coming from a straight person who is on the LGBT rights side)

Spirit Spider
Spirit Spider5 years ago

We are all just human

Peter N.
5 years ago

Where's the story? Even if you think homosexuality is a "sin", every Christian "sins" in one form or the other. Now if it were a teacher at the school that would be different because teachers should be held to a higher standard since the school has the right to expect their teacher to abide by the moral values that the school considers makes them good role models for their students.

Jessica M.
Jessica M5 years ago

Neal: There's nothing stopping anybody from opening up Star Wars U. Star Wars and Mother Goose fans have the same Constitutional protections that Christians have, so why not?