After LGBTQ activists demanded that prominent Christian college Azusa Pacific University (APU) remove its ban on homosexual relationships on campus, the university has finally caved and reversed its longstanding policy.
According to Zunews, APU has stripped language from its student standard of conduct agreement that "prohibited public LGBTQ+ relationships for students on campus" while still professing to adhere to a Biblical interpretation of human sexuality.
"This change is a result of much dialogue between students and administration," reports the outlet. "For years, LGBTQ+ students at APU have run an underground support group called Haven. However, because they weren’t endorsed by APU as an official club, they couldn’t gather on campus or advertise their meetings."
Haven largely met in apartments around APU and its events were promoted in secret, by word-of-mouth. They were emboldened to change the school policy after last year, when a faculty member claimed to have been the target of anti-LGBT slurs on campus.
Working in concert with the LGBTQ organization Brave Commons, Haven began dialoguing with the school administration on ways to reverse the policy, which also prohibited pre-marital sex between heterosexual couples on campus.
“We thought it was unfair to single out queer folks in same-sex romantic relationships while it is impossible to enforce or monitor [whether other students are remaining abstinent]," said Brave Commons co-executive director Erin Green. "Queer students are just as able to have romanticized relationships that abide by APU’s rules. The code used falsely assumed that same-sex romances always involved sexual behavior. This stigmatization causes harm to our community, especially those serious about their Christian faith."
Associate Dean of Students Bill Fiala, Ph.D., said the board evaluated their code of conduct to create a more equitable policy, alleging that "the language changed but the spirit didn't."
"The changes that occurred to the handbooks around sexual behavior creates one standard for all undergraduate students, as opposed to differential standards for different groups," Fiala said. "The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn’t. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality."
The Office of Student Life has also been working with LGBTQ students on a potential "safe space" for them on campus.