WACO, TX — Baylor university is hoping for a 'resolution' with it's LGBTQ+ students.
This after a decade of requests for Baylor University to recognize the unofficial LGBTQ+ group "Gamma Alpha Upsillon" (GAY) as an official charter have not been approved or denied, as it's board of regents suggests the possibility of creating a brand new chartered group instead.
"The idea is to really start with a clean slate and say let's really begin from the beginning and think about this in maybe a new way or a way that doesn't have any of the history from the university's perspective or the student group perspective so that we can all start on the same place, and then work together and then form a charter for a student group. So I think it'll be a collaborative process and one built on care and respect of one another." says Baylor University Dr. Linda Livingstone.
The potential new group would be a collaboration between students and staff in what Baylor says is quote "Rooted in it's baptists beliefs and traditional biblical understanding of human sexuality."
The university said it plans to serve the needs of all students based on three guiding principles:
- The dignity and worth of all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, as we strive to fulfill our Christian commitment of a caring community.
- The biblical understanding that sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage between a man and a woman are not in keeping with the teaching of Scripture, as summarized in the University’s Statement on Human Sexuality.
- Our commitment to providing a welcoming, supportive educational environment based on civility and respect for all.
"We continued as our board a conversation that we've been engaged in for some time around ways that we can as a board lean into and provide support for administration, to provide a better level of care, a better level of community and sense of belonging for or 'LBGT' students at Baylor University. That's been an ongoing conversation at the board level and that conversation culminated in a couple of things that we believe allow us as a university to lean more fully into the grace and truth aspects of our commitment as a Christian university."
says Board of Regents with Baylor University Mark Rountree.
"The truth aspects of what we believe not only about scripture but also about the traditional biblical view of human sexuality, which our board affirmed in our action. But also leaned into the grace aspect of our commitment as a Christian university and to a caring community and charge the administration with continuing to look for ways to continue to better care for include give a sense of belonging to our 'LBGT' students" says Rountree.
For members of GAY, they're excited about the university having conversations on LGBTQ+ issues but are worried the new group won't be a safe space for it's 200+ members and allies.
"What if Baylor tries to be all 'conversion therapy-esque' where they try to fix us according to the human sexuality statement. What our members are afraid of is, does Baylor truly see what our goal is, do they see what the group has become?" says Alex Gonzalez the Exernal Chair for Gamma Alpha Upsilon.
"Gamma has become more than just the idea of queer people existing, it's become a community a support group and it has this kind of family feel to it, and it's become a very special thing." says Gonzalez.
Right now 2 Baylor students are still going through with a lawsuit claiming it's unconstitutional for universities like Baylor to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students through religious exemptions, while being funded by taxpayer money.
"I don't think Baylor deserves a pat on the back until any actual change happens, because at this point Baylor has essentially acknowledged the awkward predicament it finds itself in which is basically it's entire campus community supports LGBTQ+ rights while the southern baptist convention and a majority of it's board of trustees do not." says Paul Southwick, the head lawyer representing plaintiffs in the class action against the Department of Education.
"A student club is designed to serve students. And all the other student clubs that exist at Baylor, they're started by students and they get approved according to a normal process. Gamma should be treated the same way, and unfortunately it looks like the university is not. I think the two most important things for any LGBT student club is that it needs to be independent and a safe space, and my fear is that it's not going to be independent and it's not going to be a safe space because Baylor is going to regulate it and monitor it in a way that will limit the ability of the students to speak freely." says Southwick.
In response to the recent actions of the Baylor Board of Regents, the Waco LGBTQ+ Nonprofit Organization, Waco Pride Network released the following statement:
"We are encouraged by some of the steps no matter how small, that Baylor has made, but there is still a long way to go to recognize the full humanity and dignity of LGBTQ+ students at Baylor. We are here as a resource for the LGBTQ+ community in Waco, including students at Baylor. We will continue to work to support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community here in Waco."
For now GAY plans to meet with Baylor and see what direction the university takes this possible new group.
Members say at the end of the day, GAY will always be a safe space for past, current and future LGBTQ+ students and allies.
"Whether it's today or tomorrow or another 10 years in the future Baylor will have to acknowledge that queer students exist on their campus and that their voices matter. We wont be chartered but we'll still exist have our voices heard," says Gonzalez.
You can find the full resolution here.