Finding Common Ground at George Fox University
March 19, 2012 by Guest contributor
This guest post comes from Joey Hays, Volunteer Coordinator for HRC's Portland Steering Committee:
LGBTQ and allied alumni from George Fox University recently launched OneGeorgeFox with an open letter calling on the university to reconsider its treatment of LGBTQ students. OneGeorgeFox arose in response to University policies that prohibit gay relationships, forbid the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance, and prevent faculty from publicly speaking up in support of LGBTQ students. Within two weeks of its launch, more than 300 alumni signed OneGeorgeFox's letter and more than 5,000 people have visited the website, onegeorgefox.org.
The letter also addressed current LGBTQ students on campus, giving them a message of hope and letting them know that life gets better. And the students are already buidling their own community on campus. Around the same time that OneGeorgeFox debuted, the LGBTQ and allied students formed a group that now has more than 60 members and is the largest, though unofficial, club on campus. The student group is called Common Ground and will request official club status within the next few weeks.
To celebrate the formation of OneGeorgeFox and Common Ground, the alumni group held a "coming out" event on March 14 with Grammy-nominated Christian music artist, and recently out lesbian, Jennifer Knapp, as well as Justin Lee, the Executive Director of the Gay Chrsitian Network. The University did not allow the event to be held on campus, so it was held three blocks from campus at a nearby cultural center. At almost 200 attendees and standing room only, Jennifer and Justin spoke passionately about their journeys of self-affirmation as queer people of faith. In addition to the many members of the George Fox community, several members of HRC were present at the event and shared information with how students and other can get involved in the LGBTQ community outside of Newberg, OR and the George Fox campus.
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