Seattle Pacific Student Joins Equality Ride for Next Stop
Young Adults to Reconcile Faith, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: April 11, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Brandon Kneefel, West Bus Media Director
Cell: 612-715-6138, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Seattle, Washington) — The City of Seattle delivered a Proclamation recognizing April 11, 2007 as "Equality Ride 2007 Day." The Equality Ride entered Seattle with major support from Seattle’s Multi-Faith Works, Seattle Gay News, and Equal Rights Washington. The Soulforce Equality Ride is a two month bus tour of young adults on a mission to end religion-based discrimination at Christian colleges and universities.
The Equality Ride visited Seattle Pacific University and Northwest University in Kirkland on Wednesday, April 11th. Half of the Riders spent the day at Northwest, while the other half spent the day at SPU.
Tension on Northwest’s campus was evident during theological discussions as students, faculty and Riders sought out the best words for reconciliation. In debriefing, Northwest President Argue said, "We’ve learned a lot today."
At SPU, presentations by Equality Riders were fully attended and received standing ovations. "I would like to apologize on behalf of myself and the church for the ways in which we have not supported our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers," said one SPU student to the auditorium during a Q and A session with Equality Riders.
"Before you came we talked about how we could be gracious to you, but you [Equality Riders] are the ones who have been gracious to us," said another SPU student while debriefing over dinner.
As the day ended for the Riders at SPU, Beth Van Dam, a lesbian senior at SPU, decided to join the Equality Ride as they visit Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho — a school she attended for her first two years of college.
"Both schools have discriminatory doctrines and policies that silence lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people on campus," says Alexey Bulokhov. Seattle Pacific’s handbook isolates the LGBT student body as they make specific annotations regarding "homosexual sexual activities" as being subject to "disciplinary actions." Northwest University’s community covenant annotates that they will not condone "homosexual practices." These ambiguous statements set LGBT students apart and foster a climate of fear and silence that is not conducive to learning.
The Equality Ride 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, while the eastbound bus has been silenced and was most recently met with contempt in the form of police on horseback, four-wheelers, on rooftops, and emergency units at Patrick Henry College outside of Washington D.C. The east bus Riders were separated by police tape and two were arrested after attempting to begin dialogue on campus. The remaining eastbound Riders have continued the day at PHC holding a vigil in the hail and rain.
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 Northwest Nazarene University where Equality Riders will engage in a welcomed dialogue regarding the school’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.