Graduating seniors at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) protested their school’s anti-LGBTQ policies by handing rainbow flags to the school’s president when receiving their diplomas.
SPU students have been protesting the school’s stance on “Employee Lifestyle Expectations,” which, the policy states, must align with what it calls “the University’s understanding of Biblical standards.” This authorizes it to fire full-time employees who date, marry or live with partners of the same sex and to reject job applicants for similar reasons.
At graduation, seniors handed Pride flags to Dr. Pete Menjares, the interim president of SPU, instead of shaking his hand. Video of the protest went quickly viral.
For months leading up to graduation, SPU students have been protesting the policy. In May, students staged a sit-in that lasted 19 days, after the school’s Board of Trustees voted to uphold the policy against employees in same-sex relationships.
“This is not a new fight — this has been an ongoing fight for 30 years,” Laur Lugos, the student body president and a recent graduate of the school, told the NPR affiliate KUOW.
“We want the community of SPU to know that this was a thorough and prayerful deliberation,” the board chair, Cedric Davis, said on May 23, the day the decision was made. “The Board made a decision … and chose to have SPU remain in communion with its founding denomination, the Free Methodist Church.”
SPU, a Christian school, was originally founded as the Seattle Seminary and is associated with the Free Methodist Church, according to the school’s student-run newspaper.
The school’s statement on Human Sexuality — which is linked to the Employee Lifestyle Expectations section posted on its site — aligns with Methodist beliefs and reads, “We believe it is in the context of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman that the full expression of sexuality is to be experienced and celebrated … Within the teaching of our religious tradition, we affirm that sexual experience is intended between a man and a woman.”
“Eternally proud of the student body,” one commenter wrote on TikTok of the graduation footage.
“This is giving me so much joy,” another said.
“symbolism with action to back it up,” a person commented. “y’all are doin the damn thing!!”
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