Azusa Pacific University, a Christian college based in Southern California, has decided to remove a ban on same-sex relationships among students—this time, it seems, the decision is final.
The university’s Board of Trustees decided on Thursday (March 14) to amend the student handbook to remove references banning LGBT relationships.
University Provost Mark Stanton said in a statement quoted in local news outlet San Gabriel Valley Tribune the decision showed the institution’s commitment to “uniform standards of behaviour for all students, applied equally and in a nondiscriminatory fashion.”
“Remember the power of your voice and never be afraid to go against the grain.”
— Azusa Pacific University student Alexis Diaz
“APU is an open-enrollment institution, which does not require students to be Christian to attend, and the handbook conveys our commitment to treating everyone with Christ-like care and civility,” Stanton continued, adding: “Our values are unchanged and the APU community remains unequivocally biblical in our Christian evangelical identity.”
The Azusa Pacific University continues to uphold the view that marriage is between a man and a woman and that people should be celibate if they aren’t married.
The proposed change to the student handbook first emerged in September following discussions between the university’s underground LGBT+ support group Haven, which had to meet off-campus as it was not endorsed by the institute, and APU’s administrative board.
The university Board of Trustees however reinstated the ban as they needed to be the ones enforcing the change. The decision to reinstate the ban was met with protests form Azusa Pacific University students.
In one demonstration, on Monday October 1, dozens of students sang in support of the university’s LGBT+ community.
LGBT+ activists welcome Azusa Pacific University Board of Trustees’ decision on same-sex relationships
LGBT+ organisation Brave Commons, which supported the students in protesting the decision via demonstrations and a public petition, welcomed the Board of Trustees’ decision.
“No stigmatizing of queer people specifically. This is what we asked for all along” the organisation’s co-executive director Erin Green said in a statement.
According to Brave Commons, one of the LGBT+ students who worked to get a final decision from the university board was Alexis Diaz, who holds the position of Speaker of the House at APU Student Government Association.
Diaz celebrated the news on Facebook, writing: “To know and to be working with many who have tirelessly advocated on behalf of marginalized students on campus makes it all worthwhile. Remember the power of your voice and never be afraid to go against the grain. I am grateful.”