Patrick Henry College Chancellor Michael Farris threatened to sue a blog run by LGBT students and alumni under pseudonyms, but backed off when he realized he didn’t have a case. But he’s still agitated by the existence of “Queer at Patrick Henry College” (queerphc), and has now said that homosexuals can’t exist at PHC because “they could not sign our honor code,” which demands that students be “sexually pure.”
Farris founded PHC in 1998 to be the home for his Home School Legal Defense Association. He is an ordained Baptist minister who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor of Virginia in 1993 as a Republican.
Queerphc contributor “Kate Kane” responded to Farris’ “disturbing” remarks:
There’s a stark difference in the definition of our terms. In the eyes of those like Farris, homosexuality is just a sexual action or sexual lifestyle. For us, it’s an orientation, a marker of personal identity. Is it possible that there are no students having gay sex while enrolled at PHC? Entirely possible. But that doesn’t erase the existence of LGBTQ students at the school.
In a student body where there are so many virgins, why is it difficult to believe in the existence of a gay virgin?
It’s difficult if you believe homosexuality is completely synonymous with having gay sex.
In addition, Farris seems to think that any LGBTQ student who signed the honor code would be lying. But if a student’s sexuality has been repressed for years, they may not even realize they are anything other than straight or cisgender [not trans] until after they enroll at the school. Personally, I did not begin to come to terms with my orientation until I was nearly ready to graduate. A student may also realize they are LGBTQ, but attempt to suppress it because they believe that being queer is wrong. Enrollment at a school like PHC could be part of a larger attempt to continue to live as straight or cisgender. Finally, since many parents hold the purse strings, some LGBTQ students might not have much of a choice as to where they attend school.
Kate’s point about the difference between sexual behavior and sexual identity is astute, and describes many conservative assumptions beyond those presented by Farris. Even students who knowingly abstain from acting on their same-sex orientations are still impacted by anti-gay stigma and could consequently feel isolated and demonized. PHC clearly has a long way to go toward creating an inclusive environment for its LGBTQ students, but queerphc is no doubt blazing a trail.