Charleston City Paper, "Katie Writes in from Soulforce Bus"

Katie Writes in from Soulforce Bus

Monday, October 6, 2008
Introduction by Greg Hambrick, Charleston City Paper

We asked Katie Higgins to give us the word from the Soulforce bus after they visited Liberty University on their way to Columbia today.

    Our visit to Liberty University is an excellent example of why we do push the envelope on the college campuses that say that our voices are not allowed.  In 2005, Jerry Falwell allowed over 60 young adults from Soulforce to join students on campus.  In 2006, over 20 were arrested and this year, his son, Jerry Falwell, Jr., repeatedly told the media that we would not be allowed on campus.  Obviously, we were allowed on and as always, there were many students who were eager to speak with us.  So many in fact, that we had to bring them off campus to where the rest of the Riders were.  Had we not moved forward with our intention to be on campus, we would have fallen short of our goal for LU students to have the chance to talk with us about our message of inclusion and justice.  More so than any year before, we have heard from many LU students who are LGBT and desperately need us to be a voice of reason on their campus.

    As we drive to Columbia tomorrow, I will be hoping that the folks of my home state make the right decision and allow us on campus.  Columbia International University has gone to great lengths to keep their students from speaking with us and I know this because a few have contacted us out of disappointment in their university.  That is probably the hardest thing for me to understand- What about our message is so threatening?  Is it the delivery?  We are a small group of young adults who have dedicated their lives to learning the philosophy and methods of nonviolence and we stand at a school’s gate with our Bibles and open hearts.  CIU has said that if we walk onto campus, that we would be arrested under South Carolina’s trespassing laws. I have to believe that they are better than that; I have to believe that when they see that we bring with us nothing but our own truths, we will be welcomed.  My mom is joining us on Monday and with that, I am finally ready to make my home an active part of my journey for justice.

The original article is available in the "Gay Charleston" section on the Charleston City Paper website:
http://gaycharleston.ccpblogs.com/2008/10/06/katie-writes-in-from-soulforce-bus/

Equality Ride to Visit Columbia International University

Young Adults Tour Christian Colleges to Advocate Safety and Inclusion for All Students

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SOULFORCE MEDIA ADVISORY: October 1, 2008
For Immediate Release

Contact: Caitlin MacIntyre, 
Equality Ride Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138 Email: caitlin@equalityride.com
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What: On October 6, the Soulforce Equality Ride, a youth-organized bus tour to faith-based colleges, will bring a message of safety and fairness to Columbia International University. Equality Riders will meet with college administrators and a small group of students off-campus and hold a vigil adjacent to campus. At the vigil, the Equality Riders will be joined by students from the University of South Carolina and local residents.

"We are happy to meet with a small group of administrators and students off campus, but we have emails from more students who are eager to talk to Equality Riders," said Katie Higgins. "We hope that Columbia International will decide to allow our discussion about faith and fairness to continue on campus."

Why: More than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have explicit policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. The Columbia International student handbook states that "homosexual behavior" is "to be avoided by members of the University community."

When: Monday, October 6, 2008 at 10:00 am

Where: 7435 Monticello Rd., Columbia, SC

Who: The 18 to 26-year-old Equality Riders are members of Soulforce Q, the young adult division of Soulforce, a national social justice organization.

Since 2006, the Equality Ride has visited 50 schools, hosting public forums, participating in panel discussions, and taking part in worship services and Bible studies. The goal is to inspire further conversation and to empower students, faculty, and administrators to make their school welcoming to all students.

The organizers of the Equality Ride write to college administrators months in advance and invite them to work together to design programming that examines diverse points of view — including points of view that affirm gay and transgender students.

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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 through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, go to www.equalityride.com.