Baylor University faced pushback from students and alumni this past spring after the university declined to recognize the LGBTQ organization Gamma Alpha Upsilon (“GAY” in Greek letters) as an official student group. An April petition, signed by more than 3,200 individuals, urged Baylor to allow LGBTQ student groups to organize officially on campus as “an issue of fundamental fairness and equity.”
Baylor, however, continues to affirm historic Christian teaching and does not allow students to “participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching,” according to the school’s statement on human sexuality.
During the summer, the Baylor University Board of Regents did not take action in response to the petition, as some hoped they would. Yet, in an effort to work toward “creating a supportive, safe environment for LGBTQ students,” the board did invite Janet B. Dean, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Asbury University to present her research during the board’s annual summer retreat. Dean is the co-author of the book Listening to Sexual Minorities: A Study of Faith and Sexual Identity on Christian Colleges Campuses.
“It was a really good time for the board to ask questions of her and what she saw, but then to also have some discussion amongst ourselves about what that meant for Baylor,” said Baylor President Linda Livingston, as reported by The Waco Tribune.
In a defiant response to Baylor’s fidelity to historic Christian teaching, LGBTQ student activists recently sent letters to both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Big 12 Conference urging them to examine the school’s LGBTQ policies and Title IX compliance.
These LGBTQ student activists must assume that pressure from collegiate athletic associations–and the money associated with national college athletics–will change the university’s convictions. Little do they know that true Christian conviction is not swayed by such worldly influences. Baylor is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and maintains that “sexual relations of any kind outside of a marriage between a man and a woman are not in keeping with the teaching of Scripture, as understood by the preponderance of Christian congregations and denominations throughout history…”
Justin Davis, a Baylor alumnus and identifying LGBTQ Christian, wrote an article that’s been circulating social media titled, “Baylor University’s LGBTQ Students Deserve Recognition and Real Support, Not More Hollow Platitudes.”
“In this era, Baylor’s continued refusal to recognize an LGBTQ student group is not only ignorant but also threatens the wellbeing and safety of its students,” Davis wrote.
Davis, who previously worked at the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith program in Washington, D.C., went on to describe the “fear, guilt, shame, and homophobia” that he experienced during his years at Baylor. “My own experience at Baylor, of being isolated and intimidated on campus, and passed off to local ministries practicing conversion therapy had serious long-term impacts on me,” he wrote.
Baylor provides a statement on human sexuality but does not require its students, faculty, or staff to necessarily adhere to the school’s viewpoint. According to the school:
Baylor provides this statement so that those who join our campus community are aware of the University’s values and expectations. We believe that Scripture is the ultimate authority on how to conduct our lives and that it serves as a light to guide our way in a manner that honors God and others.
Baylor respects everyone’s right to express his or her opinion, and the University recognizes that there are members of our community who do not agree with Baylor’s statement on human sexuality. Regardless of one’s viewpoint on this issue, we believe that all people have been created in God’s image and that God loves all people unconditionally. Thus, Baylor supports the dignity and worth of every person and seeks to create a campus climate where each person is treated with love and respect within our caring community, as outlined in our University mission statement.
Baylor also states that LGBTQ-identifying students will not face disciplinary action or lose their financial aid. Nor do the school’s counselors condone or practice conversion or reparative therapy.
You can read more about Baylor’s policies on human sexuality here.