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Christian College to Review Ban on 'Homosexual Practice'

Christian College to Review Ban on 'Homosexual Practice'

Gordon College, one of the nation’s top Christian colleges, will review its policy of forbidding “homosexual practice” now that an accrediting body has objected to the college’s stance, reports the Boston Business Journal.

The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges has given the Wenham, Mass., college a year to assure that its policies are nondiscriminatory and meet the commission’s inclusive standards.

Gordon has appointed a review board, consisting of students, faculty, staff, trustees, and administrators, to look at the policy and advise the board of trustees, which will make the final decision. At least one of the students is gay, and several members of the review group have publicly opposed the current policy, the Business Journal notes. The group is expected to make its first report before Thanksgiving.

Based on the review group’s input, the college will submit a report at the commission’s September 2015 meeting “to ensure that the College’s policies and processes are non-discriminatory and that it ensures its ability to foster an atmosphere that respects and supports people of diverse characteristics and backgrounds, consistent with the Commission’s Standards for Accreditation,” said a joint statement by Gordon College and the NEASC.

If the college doesn’t meet the standards of the accrediting body, it would be given guidelines and a time frame for adherence. Pulling a school’s accreditation is quite rare, but with increasing opposition to anti-LGBT discrimination nationwide, more private Christian colleges could find their accreditation in question.

The current Gordon policy “affirms God’s creation of marriage” as a “union of one man and one woman,” saying that “there are clear prohibitions in the Scriptures against sexual relations between persons of the same sex.”

“The Gordon community is expected to refrain from any sexual intercourse — heterosexual or homosexual; premarital or extramarital — outside of the marriage covenant,” says the college’s statement on homosexuality. But while Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to marry, Gordon College does not recognize those unions — so whether a same-sex couple is married or not, the college forbids same-sex sexual activity.

This past July, Gordon College came under scrutiny when college president Michael Lindsay signed on to a letter to President Obama asking for an exemption from his executive order prohibiting institutions that hold contracts with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The backlash was swift, with prominent alumni of Gordon College condemning the college’s actions; the Lynn, Mass., public school district in the area cutting ties after an 11-year relationship with Gordon College in a partnership that allowed Gordon students to volunteer and mentor in the school system; and a museum in the area rescinding an endorsement of Gordon for a federal grant.

“It’s encouraging to see that Gordon has formed a working group to review its exclusionary policies toward LGBT people and better understand how that impacts students’ academic experience and health and well-being,” said Paul Miller, an alumnus and a member of the steering committee for One Gordon, the college’s LGBT alumni group, in an interview with The Advocate. “There is very little representation of the LGBT community in the working group, but given that alumni aren’t included and Gordon’s policies prohibit out LGBT faculty and staff, it is unsurprising. I still see it as a missed opportunity to fully understand LGBT alumni perspectives and those whose professional trajectories have been impacted by the new visibility of Gordon’s exclusionary policies toward LGBT people.”

One Gordon has created a peitition asking for the ban on same-sex activity to be ended; it has garnered over 800 signatures, mostly from alumni. 

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