“The LGBT community is sometimes forgotten in the ‘we want to be one with each other and we are family and we are all suffering.’ We are one and we are family and we are all suffering, but the PLNU community is also causing some of that suffering,” said Taeshon Greene, PLNU senior and business marketing major.
According to the university’s Personal Conduct Agreement, PLNU attempts to faithfully care for all students while engaging in conversations respectfully. PLNU students, Lauren Cazares, junior political science major, Sarah Holly, senior philosophy major, and Greene describe their how their experience at PLNU has stood in opposition to this. “I had anxiety every single day. There was no visibility on campus for people who I could identify with,” said Holly.
Though PLNU has not always had a safe place for students in the LGBTQ+ community, Cazares says PLNU is moving in the right direction. “I have been really blessed by loving, accepting and open people, but there is also faculty where I know I can’t make a comment about being gay. I don’t think anyone needs to have the same view, but I think it needs to be welcome and open and able to be talked about.”
Though the LGBTQ+ community struggles to find a place on campus, Voices of Love provides an environment of support. Greene describes Voices of Love as “a breath of fresh air.” Voices of Love is a sponsored group on campus that does not have club status and does not have funding.
“The fact there is so much pushback to provide space for students on campus is so absurd to me,” said Holly. “The purpose of Voices of Love is to reach and give community to people who wouldn’t have it and hopefully lower the risk of losing some really precious life.”
Holly said that Voices of Love seems to be mentioned when convenient for PLNU. “There’s a showcase element. For example, having a senator here who was interested in Voices of Love and the way PLNU is progressing. Those in charge were happy to introduce us, but we were used in that sense. We get support when it’s convenient.”
Greene also spoke out about the ways PLNU has not been completely inclusive toward Voices of Love and LGBTQ+ students on campus. He said, “Organizations want us to be a part of certain discussions on campus, but we miss out on events because no one reached out. There are no excuses for the way things have been handled.”
Dr. Caye Smith, Vice President for student development, speaks on PLNU’s goals with the LGBTQ+ students on campus. “Hopefully we treat all of our students, including our LGBTQ+ students, with respect and civility and love. We desire to create that kind of environment for our LGBTQ+ students as we do for every student.”
Smith mentioned PLNU does not have any policy against LGBTQ+ relationships, and the school tries to create dialogue within these communities. “We’ve had numbers of formal and informal conversations, so I think we’re a community that values discourse of all kinds including discourse related to sexual orientation.”
When it comes to discrimination, Smith said PLNU’s policies have the same repercussions in place for hateful language toward any member of the community. “We would seek for that kind of behavior to stop as quickly as possible. We would try to reach an understanding of why that doesn’t reflect who we are as a university and what needs to change. We just try to help people maintain a posture of civility and respect toward all members of our community.”