When I was bony ninth grader in Los Angeles scuttling to and from my high school classes between reading Jacqueline Susan novels, we had what was termed “GSA” — also known as the gay-straight alliance. One teacher was named the head of said club which was hosted in their classroom come lunchtime and there were all kinds of fundraisers and events where teenagers sold candy. But when I look back now as an adult, the club was clearly about more than lunch inside and the chance to color rainbows on cardboard signs. Because in a high school, where homophobic language is unfortunately common and gay kids are bullied until no end, a club like GSA can make all the difference in creating tolerance and even awareness in straight students — as well as keeping the administration in check for any policies or actions that may harm gay kids.
So when two girls were issued suspensions for kissing during my school’s talent show, it was the GSA who stepped in and reminded the deans and teachers that they should reconsider that call because of the message it sent queer students.
Unfortunately, some kids at Pepperdine University, not too far from where my own high school GSA originated, have been denied that opportunity. The administrators have said a resounding “no” to acknowledging “Reach OUT”, a gay-straight alliance as an official club at the university because they “cannot take a neutral position on sexual morality.”
Dean of Students Mark Davis released a statement in the student newspaper explaining their reasons, specifically “honoring the biblical conviction that sexual activity should be reserved for a husband-wife relationship.” He is quoted in the LA Weekly blog as saying:
“Pepperdine seeks to be faithful to this teaching because we believe it is God’s will,” Davis said, “and therefore we cannot endorse another view or take a neutral position on sexual morality. Although Reach OUT stated in its application that it has no position on sexual activity, we do not believe it is possible for a LGBT student organization to maintain a neutral position.”
Simone Wilson writes that the university already has a committee developed by the administration called “Building Bridges,” which addresses LGBTQ issues. So I suppose one gay-ish group is the cap for Pepperdine students, as who knows what multiple groups committed to tolerance might produce on campus.