Azusa Pacific University, an evangelical Christian school in California, has reinstated an anti-LGBTQ policy that prohibited students from having romantic same-sex relationships, two weeks after it first dropped the new language from its official code of conduct.
According to the university’s Board of Trustees, which reinstated the original language this week, the initial change to the student standards of conduct was “never approved by the board.”
“We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waver in our Christ-centered mission,” the board said in a statement last week. “We will examine how we live up to these high ideals and enact measures that prevent us from swaying from that sure footing.”
Azusa Pacific’s statement on human sexuality maintains that sex is only permitted between a married man and woman. “Any deviation from the biblical standard is an opportunity for repentance, grace, and redemption, so that as a community we might honor one another and glorify God,” it declares. The code of conduct specifies, “Students may not engage in a romanticized same-sex relationship.”
According to Albert Tate, a member of the board, removing that language was “hurtful” because “everyone else filled that gap with their own language and interpretations.” He claimed the board planned to “strategically partner with our LGBTQ students to find the best language possible to capture our heart and intent.”
Azusa Pacific’s LGBTQ community has long run an underground support group called Haven. Because of the university’s policies, Haven has never been recognized as an official club, leaving it to meet in private apartments and only advertise via word-of-mouth.
But Haven has been meeting with administrators, and the school had recently announced, along with the language change, the creation of a pilot safe space for LGBTQ students on campus. Dozens turned out to the Office of Student Life’s first two meetings of the new program. That group will continue to meet, but it is no longer a “pilot program” and is no longer allowed to call itself Haven.
More than 100 students gathered Monday to pray in support of the LGBTQ community in the wake of the university’s backslide.
Azusa Pacific has a long history of nurturing anti-LGBTQ attitudes. Last year, a line cook who works at the school spoke out about physical and verbal assaults he had experienced from university employees for being gay, but the university denied the allegations. In 2013, the school asked a theology professor who had taught there for 15 years to leave after he came out as transgender. A gay student who played football at the university claimed he heard homophobic comments regularly, which were never challenged by professors or staff.
Campus Pride, a national nonprofit that supports LGBTQ students, student leaders, and school groups, lists Azusa Pacific on its “shame list,” declaring it one of the least LGBTQ-friendly campuses in the country.