Students protest anti-LGBTQ school policies with pride flags at graduation

Students at Seattle Pacific University post a torn montage of graduate students handing Pride flags to the school’s president as part of a protest against the Board of Trustees’ May 20, 2022 decision to uphold a policy banning the employment of same-sex marriages.

The now-viral TikTok has racked up over 2.9 million views after it was posted on June 13 by @engaygetheculture, an account dedicated to protesting the recent SPU decision. The video’s caption reads, “We’ve also been sleeping outside his office in a gay sit-in for the past 19 days, but he doesn’t usually say hello to us.”

@engaygetheculture We’ve also been sleeping outside his office in a gay sit-in for the past 19 days, but he doesn’t usually say hello to us. #pride #pridemonth #lgbtq #gay #graduation #fyp #seattle #changethepolicy #hiregayprofs ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

The account has posted other videos criticizing the school’s discriminatory policies. Commenters ask why the SPU refuses to hire people in same-sex marriages.

The university is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. The board letter referenced above states that it is against FMC USA policy to make rule changes “that change its hiring policy to allow the hiring of individuals who lead lifestyles that are inconsistent with the teachings of the FMC Book of Discipline sexual purity”.

The SPU’s website describes the institution as a “nationally accredited, private Christian liberal arts university in Seattle, Washington.”

The video, in which students present several Pride flags to the university’s president, sparked online debate and quickly went viral on Reddit, where commentators questioned the legality of such a decision.

One user said, “This is insanely illegal lol.”

Another agreed, saying: “Just because they [haven’t] been sued doesn’t make what they’re doing legal.”

While the US government has clear policies against discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, race, religion, and a range of other personal characteristics, according to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI): “Many Christian colleges and universities discriminate against LGBTQ students – and government policies allow them.”

This is because of a specific Title IX exemption that the US government provides for religious schools. According to the PRRI, this exception allows universities like the SPU to “practice policies that would otherwise require them to practice non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The US Department of Education states on its website: “Title IX does not apply to an educational institution controlled by a religious organization to the extent application of Title IX would be inconsistent with the religious principles of the organization.”

This means that while students disagree with the Board of Trustees’ decision not to hire staff in a same-sex marriage, the school has the right to do so under the applicable legal framework.

PRRI went on to explain in its article that same-sex couples’ discrimination issues are more tolerable when it comes to religious institutions: “Although PRRI did not conduct surveys specifically on the hiring and admissions policies of Christian colleges and universities, PRRI data shows that 82% of Americans support legislation that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in workplaces, public housing and homes. At the same time, over a third of Americans support religiously based refusals to serve LGBTQ people, suggesting there is a higher tolerance for such policies when religion is involved.”

@engaygetheculture It’s more than just flags at graduation. Our entire campus has been protesting the SPU’s homophobic employment policy for a month. Welcome to the resistance. We are happy to have you. #pride #lgbtq #gay #pridemonth #resistance #protest #seattle #fyp #hiregayprofs #college ♬ About Damn Time – Lizzo

The @engaygetheculture account has documented other forms of activism the collective has engaged in on campus, such as staying overnight outside the President’s office, coordinating mass marches and protests across the university to protest “homophobic employment policies.” protest.

The Daily Dot reached out to @engaygetheculture via TikTok comment for comment on this story.

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*Initial publication: June 14, 2022 at 7:45 p.m. CDT

Jack Alban

Jack Alban is a freelance journalist for the Daily Dot, covering trending human interest/social media stories and real people’s reactions to them. He always tries to incorporate evidence-based studies, current events, and relevant facts to those stories to create your not-so-average viral post.

Jack Alban Students protest anti-LGBTQ school policies with pride flags at graduation

Jaclyn Diaz

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