Graduate students present rainbow flags to school president to protest anti-LGBTQ staff policies
On Sunday, as Seattle Pacific University graduates walked across the stage, some of them handed rainbow flags to the school president instead of shaking his hand. The move was a protest against the school’s policies for LGBTQ staff.
In a viral video of the graduation ceremony, members of the class can be seen receiving their diplomas from the school’s acting president and presenting him with the rainbow flags.
The exchanges were a spectacle of protest, one of many SPU students have performed throughout the school year and in recent weeks. Less than a month ago, students staged a sit-in in response to a school board decision to uphold a policy that bars employees from engaging in same-sex relationships.
Schools “Employee Lifestyle Expectations” the policy prohibits “sexual behavior inconsistent with the University’s understanding of biblical standards”. Full-time employees can be disciplined and terminated if they fail to refrain from “cohabitation, extramarital sexual activity, and same-sex sexual activity,” the policy says.
“What we did was we chose to give our president (Dr Pete Menjares) the flags instead of shaking his hand because so many of us are really upset with the current discriminatory lifestyle expectations that are maintained by our university,” said body president Laur Lugos today. class student. His last day in office was last Sunday, graduation day.
In a statement released to TODAY, Menjares said, “It was a wonderful day to celebrate with our graduates. Those who took the time to give me a flag showed me how they feel and I respect their point of view.
For four years, Lugos attended the Seattle-based private college. When applying, Lugos says she knew the school, founded in conjunction with the Free Methodist Church, was a Christian school. Yet she said TODAY she was forced to apply and go to college because falsely sold her on her messages of diversity and inclusivity.
“I think one of the most important things to note about our university, in particular, is that there’s been this big push to bring a diverse community (on campus),” she said. Explain. “So we have an increasingly diverse student body, but a university that doesn’t support us (thought) that the marketing that got us applying and then coming to this university doesn’t really reflect the policies on campus . ”
According to a May 23 statement regarding the ruling by Board Chairman Cedric Davis, the decision to uphold the policy means that “expectations of conduct for SPU employees continue to reflect a traditional view of marriage and marriage. biblical sexuality as an expression of long-standing church teaching. and biblical interpretation.
Chloe Guillot is a member of SPU’s Class of 2022 and extended both a flag and a message to Menjares when it was time for her to cross the stage. “I told him we weren’t going to stop until the policy changed,” she told TODAY, adding that around 40 to 50 graduates took part in the protest against the flag.
She told NBC News that they originally planned to hand out Menjares rainbow gummies, but their order never arrived.
“I said to myself, OK, nothing will happen. And then I showed up and was waiting in this little back room to line up for the start, and someone came in and handed me like 20 pride flags,” Guillot told NBC News. “We started giving it out to students… It was sort of first come, first served. They left very quickly, and if we could have had more, there would have been more participation.
She told TODAY that in the past the school had worked through problems while waiting for seniors to graduate.
“Faculty and staff want to see this policy changed. Students want to see it change,” Guillot said. “We’ve reached the point where I think everyone realizes that just waiting year after year for something to happen isn’t going to work.”
While Guillot will no longer be at the undergraduate level, she is returning to campus in the fall for a master’s degree in theology and intends to continue carrying the torch.
“I am a theology student. I am a lifelong Christian. It’s really important to me that people understand that Christianity is not inherently this religion that’s supposed to be hateful and exclusive. And it’s not supposed to be something that’s armed to keep people out. The God I believe in would be there to protest with us.