More former LGBTQ students who attended Trinity Western University are calling for the abolition of a portion of a community covenant that states students must refrain from sex outside of a heterosexual marriage.
This comes as B.C.’s highest court sides with the University in opening a controversial law school.
The Law Society of B.C. held a referendum in 2014 and decided not to recognize the school’s graduates, saying the covenant discriminates against members of the LGBTQ community hoping to enter the legal profession.
On Tuesday, the Appellate Court ruled the Law Society’s decision not to accredit TWU law graduates was “unreasonable” because it would limit freedom of religion.
Graduate Alexandra Moore claims the “culture of Trinity supports a suppression of differing beliefs, orientations, and identities.”
“I would love to see a day when Trinity changes their Covenant to be more inclusive.”
“Trinity says they have made a lot of initiatives and at least the conversation is happening, which is a really important step in the right direction, but from what I’m hearing from queer students on campus and recent queer grads, the personal experience, the shame, the fear, the anxiety, all of that is very similar to what I experience myself.”
Another recent grad, Matthew Wigmore, says he never felt fully accepted. He also wants the University to rescind the portion of the covenant viewed widely as discriminatory.
READ MORE: What’s life like at TWU for LGBTQ students?
“I think it is important though that TWU goes at this process at their own will.”
Both suggest that the campus culture must change to foster acceptance and understanding.
The University has, so far, refused to remove what has been viewed as the discriminatory portion of the Covenant and has launched legal challenges in several provinces in its fight to get its law school graduates accredited.
An anonymous message from a current LGBTQ student at Trinity Western
Trinity Western spokesperson Amy Robertson says the culture has improved dramatically compared to 10-20 years ago.
She says the school has a Gender Studies Institute, a self-governed group for LGBTQ students called TWU One, and has hosted several on-campus events designed to facilitate conversation about LGBTQ issues.
Former TWU gay students making this their profile pic in protest of TWU response to comment that LGBTQ students have a “terrible time.” pic.twitter.com/PKDUfvI2h5
— Shelby Thom (@ShelbyThom980) November 3, 2016
Robertson says TWU’s community covenant exists to define the school’s community as distinctly Christian.
“One of the values it upholds is traditional biblical marriage. There are two paths to marriage: Civil and religious. For TWU, biblical marriage between a man and a woman is sacred. We ask students to honour this value, which is common at most Christian organizations, while they are with us. We are thankful that as Canadians, our right to honour our consciences is protected.
The issues facing the LGBTQ community at TWU are very complex. We do our best to create a welcoming environment, and we have heard from many current and recent students that we succeed.”
Students speak out online
Former student Ashlee Davison has published her story online about her time at Trinity Western and what happened when school officials found out she was intimately involved with a woman.
Yesterday, Trinity Western hailed the legal victory on its official Facebook page as a victory for the freedom of all Canadians.
Former LGBTQ students quickly replied, expressing concerns about the difficulties faced at the Christian University. The University responded with “that’s not what we hear from our students.”
Many gay students feel the University is turning a blind eye to their struggles.
Today, the University deleted both of the Facebook threads and replaced them with a post stating “a couple conversations got out of hand” and urged students to attend an on-campus town hall with President Bob Kuhn on Nov. 9.