Graduating students hand Pride flags to university president to protest anti-LGBTQ hiring policy

In a wonderful act of defiance, graduating students at Seattle Pacific University handed interim president Pete Menjares a rainbow Pride flag instead of a handshake.

Protesting SPU’s aggressively anti-LGBTQ+ hiring policy, students who didn’t want to shake his hand decided to hand him Pride flags instead. 


Students and alumni have, for weeks, been taking shifts to stage a sit-in at Seattle Pacific University, protesting the private Christian institution’s “Employee Lifestyle Expectations” policy, which bans employees from being gay.


SPU, which upholds an ‘indiscriminate’ ban on hiring LGBTQ+ staff, is a religious institution affiliated with the Free Methodist Church USA, which as such, “reserves the right to prefer employees or prospective employees on the basis of religion,” per its website. 

The school’s “Employee Lifestyle Expectations” policy, “prohibits full-time staff from participating in ‘same-sex sexual activity,’ among other things,” the Seattle Times reports.


The protests began following a decision by SPU’s board of trustees in May not to change the school’s policy of banning employees from engaging in “sexual behavior that is inconsistent with the University’s understanding of Biblical standards.”


“While this decision brings complex and heart-felt reactions, the Board made a decision that it believed was most in line with the university’s mission and Statement of Faith and chose to have SPU remain in communion with its founding denomination, the Free Methodist Church USA, as a core part of its historical identity as a Christian university,” Board Chair Cedric Davis said in a statement released by the school May 23.


During a commencement ceremony Sunday (June 12), instead of shaking the school President’s hand in exchange for their diplomas, some students opted to hand him a Pride flag instead. 


Around 50 students were given pride flags before arriving at the ceremony, Seattle Pacific University student and organizer Chloe Guillot told CNN.
“It started just as a conversation among students that we didn’t really want to shake the president’s hand at graduation,” Guillot said. “So, we thought what can we do instead of that? And the idea came up: why don’t we hand out a pride flag?”
Pamela Styborski, another student organizer at the university, told CNN it was important to make a statement “that was very public, visible and respectful” before graduating.
“Going into Sunday, we couldn’t go out being silent,” she said.
Read more on the colourful history and importance of the Pride Flag by clicking here


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A post shared by SPU is Gay (@engaygetheculture)



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A post shared by SPU is Gay (@engaygetheculture)

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