Queer leaders carry the burden of LGBTQ+ discrimination on campus, and while students lack the support of the entire student body to rewrite SPU’s statement on human sexuality.
When asked about the challenges they anticipate as future ASSP vice president of ministries, Andy Spaletta describes the emotional work it takes to advocate for LGBTQ+ students on campus, both as a fellow queer person and as a leader for the community.
“I know … from seeing past leaders, I’ve seen them break down … [because] you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for your friends and your community,” says Spaletta.
The emotional responsibility a couple of students on campus endure in order to combat LGBTQ+ discriminatory policies at SPU is absurd. These few leaders cannot be the only ones advocating for SPU’s queer community.
We need allies to come alongside LGBTQ+ folk and protest discriminatory policies at SPU. In particular, we need people to publicly condemn the statement on human sexuality, a policy which explicitly excludes sexual and gender minorities from the Christian vision of this institution.
“It teaches queer people that they’re inherently broken … [that] you’re not able to be apart of God’s plans for ‘human flourishing,’” Drew Cortez, vice president of intercultural affairs elect, speaks from experience when he describes how the statement positions queer folk on this campus.
For LGBTQ+ students, the statement means we have to contend with both hostility from the student body —“ hate the sin, love the sinner! ”— and a second plane of discrimination which comes from the school itself.
Institutionally, you are are told your sexual and gender orientation is wrong. Socially, you fear your peers think you’re an abomination. Naturally, queer students are hesitant to express themselves on a campus which explicitly defines itself as un-affirming.
When these students contend with queerphobic faculty or peers, it’s not only a personal offence. For the student leaders, it goes beyond that, as they simultaneously feel that they are failing their community when effective change is not made.
When asked if he thought SPU’s faculty and professorship adequately creates safe environments for its LGBTQ+ students, Cortez says, “There is always a base anxiety level … that every queer student is on … it feels like we are always having to think carefully about what we do, or where we go.”
You live in code on this campus; you mimic heteronormativity in order to assimilate, and when you finally come out, when you express your identity, it makes straight, cisgendered folk uncomfortable.
The way you talk, the way you dress, and the people you love becomes an act of subversion. As a queer person, you are reduced to an object of controversy and we’re tired of it.
The current statement on human sexuality establishes an environment where LGBTQ+ students can’t safely be themselves on campus — at least not without fear of backlash from the student body.
It sets a dangerous precedent as queerphobic students and faculty use the statement as a platform to discriminate against sexual and gender minorities.
Likewise, the rhetoric tells queer students that they’re inherently immoral.
Addressing straight folk at SPU, Spalletta states, “Hold your spiritual leaders accountable when they’re straight up queerphobic. Call them … out because when you are that LGBTQ student in the back of the chapel … you’re not the one to speak out … you’re already in a space which is defined as not affirming”
There needs to be greater support from the entire student body regarding LGBTQ+ advocacy, but the majority of straight, cis students on campus seem entirely ambivalent towards queer suffering.
We, the members of the LGBTQ+ community, are excluded within the Christian narrative of this institution; the statement on human sexuality dangerously places queerness as other and controversial.
Community leaders, like Spalletta and Cortez, step up to advocate against institutionalized queerphobia, but they can’t be expected to do this alone.
Stand to oppose the statement on human sexaulity.
Stand against this injustice.
Stand beside SPU’s LGBTQ+ community. Especially if you are not queer, stand with us because we need your support.