Walking out and coming out

Students participate in a nationwide walk out on National Coming Out day

Audrey Oscarson and Caleb Cissna

On Oct. 11, students from Seattle Pacific University participated in a nationwide walkout organized by the Religious Exemptions Accountability Project and the Black Menaces, a group that has gone viral on TikTok for asking challenging questions of their peers at Brigham Young University.

Over 100 campuses participated in the walkout which was to protest and bring awareness to the Title IX exemption that many religious universities have that allows them to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ students, staff and faculty.

“We demand equality, and we will no longer allow for this blatant discrimination,” said the website for the event.

ASSP president Carrie Cox adds a handprint to the poster at the coming out day event at Seattle Pacific University on Oct. 11, 2022. (Aubre)

Oct. 11 is also National Coming Out day, which gave this protest in particular significance for the SPU community, including Oz Nardecchia, a second year communications major.

“National Coming Out Day means a lot to me because it is the day that I chose to come out to my parents,” Nardecchia said. “One year ago today, actually, and it was a big stepping stone for me and and I feel like it’s also an opportunity for other people to actually be able to like, realize that they have a community around them and support.”

For alumni Nyx Ward, coming out was a scary yet important moment.

“I’ve only been out for two years. It’s an incredible experience of fear as well as euphoria, the fear of being rejected and the fear of not being myself,” Ward said. “Coming Out Day to me, makes me really happy and I hope all the baby queers come out.”

Other students, including Leah Harper, a third year theater major are celebrating their first Coming Out day.

“While I’ve been out to like friends for a long time, I actually just came out to my mom recently, so this will be my first Coming Out Day open to my family,” Harper said.

Along with the walkout, a coming out party was hosted in the Dravus parking lot, with crafts, free snacks, and community.

At SPU, issues of LGBTQIA+ discrimination continue between many in the community and the board of trustees. Over the past two years, there have been multiple lawsuits, protests and demonstrations fighting a policy that allows the university to not hire someone if they are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Currently, a group of students, faculty and alumni are suing members of the Board of Trustees for breach of fiduciary duty, which essentially is the board breaking their promise to do what is best for the school.

“The lawsuits feel exhausting,” Nardecchia said. “They’re making it difficult for themselves to just be supported by outsiders realistically because when you look at a school, oh, they have two lawsuits going on.”

A sign reading “Jesus never rejected anyone from the table” is pictured at the October 11 event. (Aubrey Rhoadarmer)

Some students don’t believe that the lawsuit is enough, and that more activism will be required to get to the bottom of the issue.

“I hope that we take more direct action, and that we try to be more creative with how we try to approach these issues and how we try to engage with board members and other queerphobic members of the university,” Ward said. “While this is a great way to express ourselves, there are so many other things that we could also be doing.”

Yet while this event was a continuation of years of protest, it was also a celebration and space for LGBTQIA+ students to express themselves.

“It was like a gathering for us to, yes, protest against the policies here SPU but also celebrate our identities as either allies or as queer people here at SPU and it was just really nice to see everyone here and supporting everyone else,” Harper said.