Young Adults Bring Dialogue on Faith and Gays to Idaho

******************************************
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: April 13, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Kneefel, West Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138, brandon@equalityride.com
******************************************

(Nampa, Idaho) On Friday, April 13th, the Equality Ride (a national tour of gay and straight young adults on a mission to end religion-based discrimination) began a conversation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inclusion at Northwest Nazarene University. The day consisted of shared meals, open dialogue, presentations, and formal discussions.

"It makes me so angry to think that churches would exclude people from their faith because of who they are," said Lauren Schmitt, an NNU sophomore.

NNU’s policy states that "homosexual relationships" are grounds for disciplinary actions. Over 200 US colleges and universities have similar discriminatory policies. These policies transcend the campus and leak into communities, perpetuating an oppressive perspective on LGBT people. "NNU current policy fosters an unhealthy and unwelcoming environment for its LGBT student body and promotes misconceptions and misunderstandings about the LGBT community," says Cylest Brooks, Equality Rider and stop coordinator.

The day was centered on three presentations by the Equality Riders open to the student body. The last presentation for the day, entitled The Christian Thing to Do, was attended by as many as two hundred students.

The Soulforce Equality Ride, in its second annual year, is made up of 50 young adults, two buses, and two routes, one eastbound and one westbound. Along with Seattle Pacific University, the westbound bus has received many welcomes onto campus and has shared a message of inclusion across the Midwest and Pacific Coast.

A closeted NNU student said to a Rider, "It would be a disaster for me to come out. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if I was removed from school for coming out…It feels like home having you all here."

The next stop on the Equality Ride is Brigham Young University, Idaho where Equality Riders will bring a hope for dialogue regarding the school’s discriminatory policies against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

 

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.

 

###