Originally published on Advocate.com February 18 2004 1:00 AM ET
Pepperdine University officials said Tuesday they will not officially recognize a gay and lesbian student group because such an organization "is not supportive of the university's traditional Christian teachings regarding homosexuality," according to a statement released by Students Against Homophobia.
The group, formed last year by openly gay sophomore Grant Turk, has received endorsements from the Los Angeles chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and state senator Sheila Kuehl. "The university's decision will adversely affect the quality of student life on campus for some students," said Turk. "It sends a clear message of ignorance to both the student body and those outside the university. It was through SAH that I had hoped to stop the silence and bring about positive change for all students at Pepperdine."
The decision by the Church of Christ-affiliated school, located in Malibu, Calif., means the group will not be allowed to hold any meetings on campus and is not allowed to advertise in any way on university property. Turk has vowed to put up a "diplomatic fight" to reverse the ruling, including a letter-writing campaign to the school's president, Andrew Benton. "I am committed to doing whatever it takes to make Pepperdine a safe place where students of all sexual orientations can be who they are without having to face issues of hate, disrespect, and exclusion."
Wileen Wong, assistant director of public relations for the school, said in a statement, "Although the university will continue to educate against homophobia, it will not recognize a student organization that promotes teaching or behavior inconsistent with our ethical norms. The university reserves the right to determine whether a student organization is consistent with the university mission. Based on the SAH press release, it appears that SAH is not supportive of the university's traditional Christian teachings regarding homosexuality. While the university respects the right of any individual to hold different views from the university, we are under no obligation to support the formal organization of groups with opposing purposes."