Equality Riders Inspire Gay Students at Pepperdine University

National Tour of Gay Youth to End Religion-Based Discrimination on Christian Campuses

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Kneefel, West Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138, brandon@equalityride.com

(Malibu, CA) — The Soulforce Equality Ride spent two days at Pepperdine University sitting in on lectures, leading presentations, sparking dialogue, visiting the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, and reaching out to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community at Pepperdine to address discriminatory policies against LGBT people on campus.

The Equality Riders headed to Pepperdine for a welcomed dialogue regarding faith and gays following the arrest of an Equality Rider and his mother at Brigham Young University for attempting to delivery a list of BYU students’ concerns to the administration. Pepperdine has discriminatory doctrines and policies that harm LGBT individuals on campus. The Pepperdine University 2006-07 student handbook states that "homosexual conduct" will result in disciplinary action.

Pepperdine stop organizer Brian Murphy, a Los Angeles area resident, says: "I cannot in good conscience remain silent when there is a school in my own community that silences people solely on the basis of sexual orientation."

This is the fifth stop for the Equality Ride. The Equality Riders are fifty young adults of varying sexual orientations and faith backgrounds on a mission to end religion-based discrimination against LGBT students on Christian campuses. The fifty young adults are dispersed between two buses with two routes, one bus is eastbound and the other is westbound. From Notre Dame University to Brigham Young University, the westbound bus has connected with many student leaders who have honored this conversation despite the avoidance of administration, while the eastbound has endured arriving to campuses with policemen on rooftops, being held in jail for over 24 hours, vandalism of their bus, and hostile policemen, all for attempting peaceful dialogue regarding the wellbeing of LGBT students on these campuses.

"On the west bus, we are fortunate to have had opportunities to begin this dialogue, especially knowing that our brothers and sisters on the east bus and the students they come to help are still working to simply be recognized as beings that are due this conversation," says Haven Herrin, West Bus Co-Director.

"Pepperdine needs to recognize that having tolerance for us [LGBT students] is not the same as having love for us. We are worthy students and deserve an equal place on campus, a place to formally congregate to do good work, to support one another, and to diversify the student body, because when they [the administration] ignore us and deny us formal recognition as a good and functional student group they send a message to the student body that we are not worthy and in someway wrong," Anthony Barnes, freshman at Pepperdine University and member of the unrecognized student organization Malibu GLEE (gays, lesbian and everyone else).

This Thursday, Pepperdine’s administration, including Mark Davis, Vice President of Students, agreed to meet with GLEE to continue this dialogue.

The Equality Riders will continue their mission to end religion-based discrimination against the LGBT community as they visit Brigham Young University, Idaho in mid-April. The next stop on the Ride will be Fresno Pacific University, where Equality Riders will engage in a welcomed dialogue regarding FPU’s discriminatory policies.

Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. For more information go to www.soulforce.org or www.equalityride.com.