Private Christian university rejects request to hold LGBTQ event on campus, organizer says

Trinity Western University has denied an LGBTQIA2+ student group permission to hold an event on campus, group leader says.  (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press - photo credit)

Trinity Western University has denied an LGBTQIA2+ student group permission to hold an event on campus, group leader says. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press – photo credit)

An LGBTQ support group at Trinity Western University says it was denied permission to hold a storytelling event on campus, prompting members to move it elsewhere.

The event was to be organized by One TWU, a group of Trinity Western students, alumni, faculty and members of the public who are either LGBTQ or allies.

The group says it will host the March 3 event at Fort Langley Community Hall after administrators at the private Christian university in Langley, BC, rejected a request to hold the event on campus, a reversal of previous decisions.

The group’s co-director Carter Sawatzky, who also studies English literature at the university, says that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, administrators have allowed the storytelling event to take place on campus every fall since 2014, with the exception of 2020 takes place.

According to Sawatzky, this year’s school administrators said the event could not be held on campus because One TWU is an “external group,” and that the fact that the event has been held on campus in the past doesn’t mean it can’t could happen in the future.

TWU student life/YouTube

TWU student life/YouTube

CBC News has requested a response from Trinity Western University multiple times, but has yet to receive a response.

University ‘doubles down on social conservatism’: proponents

Sawatzky, who uses she/they pronouns, says the school’s explanations are disappointing but not surprising, as they describe the university’s increasingly hostile attitude towards LGBTQ people.

They say that since July 2019, when the university got a new president, the school administration has not allowed One TWU to put up posters about its support services or events.

Sawatzky also cites Allyson Jules’ resignation from the role of the university’s dean of education last year as an indicator of the school’s growing antagonism toward the LGBTQ community — they say the university’s top leadership has not supported Jules’ allies.

“It’s a reduplication of social conservatism,” they told guest host Gloria Macarenko on CBC The early edition.”[It] is part of a broader way of countering inclusive views over the years.

Fellowship against sex outside of heterosexual marriage

Trinity Western University made national headlines in June 2018 when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that law firms in BC and Ontario have the power to deny accreditation for the university’s proposed new law school based on the university’s community covenant.

The mandatory covenant committed students to a strict code of conduct that includes abstinence from sex outside of heterosexual marriage. The majority ruling said the agreement would discourage LGBTQ students from attending the proposed law school and those who attend would face significant harm.

Two months later, then-President Robert Kuhn announced that the contract would no longer be mandatory for students admitted to the university beginning in the fall of 2018, but he said while making the university more inclusive was important, it would be Board of Governors to insist on a Conservative education.

“We will remain a biblically grounded, mission-oriented, academically excellent university fully committed to our fundamental evangelical Christian principles,” Kuhn said in a written statement at the time.

Sawatzky says the university can better serve LGBTQ students by hosting the storytelling event on campus.

“I know they have different views on queer people, but it’s not their belief in God that we’re questioning — it’s how they treat queer people.

“This decision not to have us on campus is not reflective [the fact that] TWU is made up of good students and faculty who are inclusive, supportive and critical thinkers.”


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