- Divisions over LGBTQ-related policies have broken out recently at various religious colleges in the United States.
- There was a noticeable new turn at one of the most rancorous battlegrounds, Seattle Pacific University.
A group of students, staff, and faculty at the Christian university sued leaders of the board of trustees for disagreeing to scrap an employment policy barring people in same-sex relationships from full-time jobs at SPU.
The 16 plaintiffs say the trustees’ stance, widely opposed on campus, is a breach of their fiduciary duties that threatens to harm the reputation of Seattle Pacific University, worsen enrollment difficulties and possibly jeopardize its future.
The lawsuit recorded in Washington State Superior Court pleads that the defendants, including the university’s interim president, Pete Menjares, be removed from their positions. It questions whether economic damages in an amount to be determined at a jury trial be paid to anyone hurt by the LGBTQ hiring policy.
The lawsuit says that this case is regarding six men who act as if they, and the educational institution they are charged to protect, are above the law. While these men are dominant, they are not above the law. They must be considered in account for their illegal and reckless conduct.
In addition to Menjares, the defendants are board chair Dean Kato, trustees Matthew Whitehead, Mark Mason, Mike Quinn, and former trustee Michael McKee. Whitehead and Mason are Free Methodist Church’s leaders, a denomination whose teachings do not recognize same-sex marriage and which founded SPU in 1891.
SPU’s director of public information, Tracy Norlen, replied by email saying Seattle Pacific University is aware of the lawsuit and will respond in due course. SPU’s LGBTQ-related employment policy has been the origin of bitter division on the campus over the last two years.
Yeshiva University has asked the US Supreme Court to block a state court order mandating that the Orthodox Jewish school recognize an LGBTQ student group, the YU Pride Alliance, as an official campus club. On 16th September, the Supreme Court granted Yeshiva’s request for the time being and signaled it might consider the case more thoroughly.
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