Students at Concordia University Chicago are reporting that faculty have invited them to a pro-LGBT event on campus. The email was sent to all undergrads with the subject line “FWD: STOP EDUCATIONAL EVENT.” The “STOP” refers to the “Striving to Overcome Prejudice Committee,” which is run by the faculty. Here’s the note:
The Striving to Overcome Prejudice Committee (STOP) is pleased to announce the following educational opportunity, open to all students, staff, and faculty:
Straight But Not Narrow (SBNN) is an educational program designed for campuses. We are planning opportunities for the campus community to participate in one of two sessions. The program is one hour in length. It is a basic introduction to the LGBT language, definitions, and what it means to be supportive to LGBT people.
The sessions will take place in the Oak Park River Forest room on April 4th from 10:00a.m. to 11:00a.m. and from 11:30a.m. to 12:30p.m. We invite everyone to participate in one of these sessions.
In addition, the committee is announcing the presence of Safe Zones on campus. Unlike more visible under-represented groups, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons cannot be readily identified. Likewise, there is no easy method of identifying persons who are familiar with LGBT issues. The Safe Zone Program strives to provide a way for supportive persons within the University community to prominently identify themselves. The program advances Concordia University Chicago’s goal of creating a campus community in which everyone is treated with respect and dignity. Look for the following sticker to signify those supportive people:
I’m not sure what the sticker says but you can find examples of how this program is run at other schools here and here.
I’m all for Lutheran students being taught more about same-sex attraction and how to deal with it or interact lovingly with friends who are attracted to the same sex. It’s something I wish, in fact, we had many more resources for. But the Straight But Not Narrow program is obviously not that program, as even a cursory read of this email shows. Where does the Lutheran position on same-sex attraction and homosexuality come into play with these “Safe Zones”? What, exactly, does it mean to be supportive of lesbianism or transgender identity, for example? What do the stickers, which are about affirmation, mean, exactly?
Perhaps the STOP committee can think about using a different program or means to provide support to students struggling with same-sex attraction or gender identity issues. This is an important topic for a campus group to work on, but I’m pretty certain that the Safe Zone Project and the Straight But Not Narrow movement are not the means by which an LCMS school should be engaging the topic.
Any suggestions for how they could reform the program, keeping in mind the Biblical teachings we hold and the need to assist people in our communities who deal with these issues?