WRITTEN BY: DANA WILLIAMS | STAFF WRITER
Students can now attend an LGBTQ+ safe space on campus through a new club approved by Title IX coordinator Caye Smith.
Soon after the approval, ASB Director of Student Relations Nick Kjeldgaard sent out an email to the student body inviting students to the book club.
“Starting tomorrow, Wednesday the 22nd, and continuing until the end of the semester we invite you to join us in a book discussion on issues of sexuality,” Kjeldgaard said. “This discussion will be student led, but is sponsored by Community Life and Voices of Love, PLNU’s first LGBTQ+ safe-space group.”
VOL Co-Founder and PLNU senior Kendra Peterson said they want a space for LGBTQ+ students to voice their concerns. Peterson asked specifically to be identified by they/them pronouns.
“We really want to provide a space where all LGBTQ+ students can come and feel safe, and talk about things that are impacting them,” Peterson said.
Although VOL has been approved recently, Peterson said the club has already received support from more than 30 professors and faculty members.
“Having a safe-space group for LGBTQ+ persons and their friends says much about what PLNU aspires to,” said PLNU Professor of English Dr. Philip Bowles. “PLNU prides itself… as an upper-tier evangelical institution of higher education. But we cannot live into those designations if we are not openly hospitable to LGBTQ+ persons.”
The three main components of VOL are book discussions, the safe- space group and campus-wide events. Kjeldgaard is making PLNU students aware of the book discussions through weekly emails.
“If you couldn’t make it last week, don’t worry! We still have a good number of books left and would be overjoyed to see you there!” Kjeldgaard wrote to the student body last week.
“Many LGBTQ+ students on campus feel isolated and have a desire to help educate the rest of the Point Loma community and this [is] seen as a way to help with that,” Kjeldgaard said.
The book discussions are revolving around “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gay vs. Christian Debate” by Justin Lee and are welcome for all students to contribute to.
“…Lee has a really deep understanding of both being a Christian trying to figure out how to best live a life that honors God and of being gay,” Peterson said. “His experiences and journey of figuring out how to navigate these two aspects of his life that are often viewed as mutually exclusive can be eye opening and thought provoking for people on all sides of this conversation…”
Bowles said that conversations about LQBTQ+ topics are needed in order to better serve students that are LGBTQ+.
“We cannot be genuinely pleased with ourselves until we have regular, sustained campus-wide conversations about what it means to be Christ to these minorities, who have been traditionally ostracized and excluded from our institutional definitions of diversity,” Bowles said.
While the book discussions are advertised through posters and emails directed to all PLNU students, the safe- space group is reserved for those seeking “support, community and fellowship”, according to VOL’s website, and can be joined through contacting VOL to maintain the discretion of its members.
As the third component of VOL, Peterson is working on organizing campus-wide events to raise awareness within the community.
VOL’s book discussions are held every Wednesday in Cunningham A from 4-5 pm. Kjeldgaard encourages students to attend and is looking forward to starting this discussion on the topic.
photo by Jonathan Soch