Senate makes a statement

Senate sends letter to Trustees asking for removal of statement on human sexuality

Kyle Morrison, News Editor

 ASSP Human Sexuality Statement

On Feb. 1, the ASSP senate voted 10-0 with two abstentions to send a letter  to the board of trustees asking them to remove the statement on human sexuality from the student handbook and replace it with a statement of affirmation for the LGBTQIA+ community. This decision comes as Seattle Pacific University is being sued for sexual orientation discrimination by part time nursing professor Jeaux Rinedahl.

The letter which was authored by senators Rayna Martin (Emerson), Cambria Judd Babbit (Commuter students), Kolbe Logan (Humanities), Carrie Cox (Ashton), and Jojo Nguyen (At large) cites a previous proposal passed by the senate in the 2018-2019 school year titled, “​Student Mental Health and Theological Concerns: Rewrite Rhetoric found in Community and Lifestyle Expectations,” as it’s main basis for argument.

“The vision for this letter isn’t really attacking specific policies, that’s what the original 2018-2019 proposal was for,” Ashton senator Carrie Cox explained. “This is just a reflection to show those changes that were articulated there are still what we want to see happen.”

In the 2018-2019 proposal, which is 25 pages long, former CHA senator Joseph Cagley, former Fine Arts senator Lila Fowler, former president Nathan Samayo, and former student Levi Clung laid out a plan to replace the statement on human sexuality with a statement of affirmation for the LGBTQIA community.

The argument for this change in policy is taken from both scientific and theological angles.

“The statement on Human sexuality is a form of violence against LGBTQ+ individuals as it others gender and sexual minorities from their cisgender, heterosexual peers as lesser human,” the proposal says.

The proposal cites a study done by Mark L. Hatzenberger who surveyed 31,852 Oregon children, which claims that the risk of suicide for LGBTQIA+ individuals is 5 times that of their straight, cisgendered peers. This number goes up by up to 20% if an LGBTQIA individual is in an unsupportive community.

“The reason why this is violence is because it can cause death,” Senator for intercultural affairs Laur Lugos explained in the senate debate. “Anything that can cause another person to kill themselves can be considered violence.”

On the theology side, the 2018-2019 proposal focuses heavily on the concept of Imago dei or the idea that all humans are created in the image of God.

Levi Clum, who authored the portion on theology claims that there is biblical proof in Deuteronomy 32:18 and Isaiah 66:13 that God themselves are gender fluid and queer. 

A copy of Senate’s letter regarding the statement on human sexuality. (Courtesy of ASSP Senate)

He goes on to say that when Christ came to Earth he, “continuously reoriented the cultural norms of his context.” Clum also claims that, “If Christ cannot take on the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community, then the reconciling work of God is not absolute, therefore, undermining the perfect goodness and wholeness of Godself, and the Holy Spirit’s sanctification of humanity.”

Members of the senate see the new letter passed in 2021 as a reminder to the Board of Trustees of the 2018-2019 proposal, which according to commuter student senator Cambria Judd Babbit, senate never got a response on.

“Senate has already passed something like this in the years passed, we got no response from administration, and so a group of senators all got together last week and we decided to kind of write a letter of support for students in the LGBTQI community,” Judd Babbit explained. 

The letter and the 2018-2019 proposal do not fully condemn section eight of the student handbook. It still proposes to leave rules prohibiting pre-marital cohabitation and sex in place, but without any anti LGBTQIA+ language.

As of Tuesday, Feb. 9 the letter has been received by Dr. Dan Martin, Dr. Laura Hartley, and Dr. Jeff Jordan, who will pass the letter on to the board of trustees. The ASSP senate is awaiting a response.