14 July 2014

I Always Thought They Were Better Than This

Even when I wanted nothing to do with religion and was denying my spirituality, I had respect for the Quakers.  For one thing, they played important roles in helping to end slavery in the US.  For another, they have always been (officially, at least) pacifistic.  Plus, they were among the first congregations to accept LGBT people.

And now they are running a modern version of the "Underground Railroad" to help LGBT Ugandans the harsh sanctions and punishments their country imposes on them simply for being who they are.

So how do any of these things square with what's happening at George Fox University?

The Quaker-run school is denying a student named Jayce the opportunity to live with his male friends on campus.

Because you're reading this blog, you've probably deduced that Jayce is a trans man.  Having undergone his transition process, both the governments of this country and his home state (Oregon) classify him as male.  His birth certificate, driver's license and Social Security card say as much.

But, for some reason, the folks who run GFU don't see it that way.  In fact, they even lobbied for, and got, a religious exemption that allows them to deny Jayce his housing choice.  Worse, they made their request without notifying Jayce or his lawyer.

School officials have offered him the choice of living in a single on-campus apartment. However, he says, such a living arrangement would cut him off from the social life and much else he likes about the college. 

Now tell me:  How can a congregation with such a long history of welcoming people do something that further marginalizes someone from a marginalized group?  Given that many other people, organizations and communities are doing the same, and worse, is it any wonder that trans people have such high rates of depression and self-destructive behavior?

I always thought better of the Quakers.  And now I don't think I'm out of line in expecting better of them.