The Fight for Gay Rights Continues
Clarks Summit University, located just outside of Scranton, isn’t a particularly well known or praised college. Just one of 150 Christian colleges in the US, the private university’s best known for having a name dispute in 2015 with another university in Montana after trying to attract more undergraduates. It’s small, having less than 1,000 students currently attending — both on campus and online — and with this number only going to be in decline in coming years.
Yet, it recently garnered quite a bit of attention for itself for continuing a problem that’s been going on for decades now — discrimination against LGBTQIA individuals.
This should come as no surprise, of course — as a Christian college, its excessively traditionalist; its website proudly displays being “Christ-Centered” and supposedly lurking among the top Biblical colleges, boasting a strict adherence to Biblical values, and even restricting students from viewing R-rated films on campus.
Such doesn’t excuse blatant bigotry against Gary Campbell, a gay man who established a goal of finishing his bachelor’s degree whilst in recovery from alcoholism. He was aiming to earn a job helping people struggling with recovering from addiction, when the school suddenly found out that he’s gay they dismissed him from the university — in spite of needing only two more classes till he was able to get his degree.
This story is even more unnerving when its found out why he only needed two more classes — having attended the school back in 2001, partially to try to ‘cure’ himself of being gay, only to later coming to accept his sexuality.
After struggling with his sexuality for years, dealing with an environment that was trying to suppress him, and trying to net a degree that represents his hard work in recovery, he’s suddenly booted out for simply loving other men. Thousands spent in tuition, months spent working hard to gain the money have gone to waste simply because of a private Christian school’s prejudice.
It’s not as if he can easily transfer, either — being in debt by thousands because of the school and, contrary to the school’s claim to helping him transfer to a separate college, only able to transfer half of the credits he received at CSU. He can’t receive legal help either, since there’s no laws being instated against situations like this, and in actuality the tide is against him since it would be seen by the government as restricting freedom of religion!
This ties into a debate that has been ongoing for decades, one about people wanting a right to live and to be able to freely exist in society. These people constantly face institutional burdens all in the name of ‘religious freedom,’ which is little more than a guise than to support centuries of homophobia. Such proponents ignore Biblical scholars who support gay individuals, and instead try to portray heteronormativity as if it’s a good thing to be cherished, and that gay people ought to live life as if it were a giant “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
People who promote this breed of ‘religious freedom’ are the same who try to restrict Muslim people from being able to even enter the US, are the same people who battle against a secular government and aim to instate their own values. They abuse and misrepresent Christianity all for the purpose of promoting this toxicity.
This is something we need to fight against. Northeastern PA is particularly poor for LGBTQIA+ rights, with the best we have being a few Facebook groups, a gay bar or two, and a small pride event in Scranton every year that few ever actually acknowledge. The bulk of queer individuals live in hiding, facing the brunt of a conservative culture around them that prevents them from being able to be who they actually are.
This is a dire problem that needs to be fixed, before more people face the same fate as Gary Campbell. Until then, all we can do is sit, wait, and hope for the best.