Calvin students promote anti-LGBTQ speech, campus responds

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some Calvin University students are firing back at their classmates who reportedly used campus as a platform to promote anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

Some told News 8 that though Calvin fosters an environment that promotes free speech, their peers went too far.

“This has sort of put our university between a rock and hard place,” Calvin University student Graham Kort said.

A group of Kort’s classmates set up a discussion table on campus Tuesday with a banner that read, “LGBTQ is sin. The Bible says. Change my mind.”

“They saw people who they perceived as being sinful and were trying to point them away from what they perceived as a sinful path of life,” Kort said.

A photo posted on Instagram by Calvin Democrats, a university group that condemned the event, showed different bible verses organizers displayed near their table, forwarding their belief that being gay is a sin.

Students at Calvin University set up a discussion table on campus on March 9, 2021 with a banner that read, “LGBTQ is sin.” (Courtesy: Calvin Democrats)

“This was people going out of their way to make other people feel uncomfortable and I would say this is a hate speech,” said Alia Shenk, a student at Calvin University.

A spokesperson for Calvin said the students responsible for the discussion table did not get approval to put it on university property. The spokesperson added he would not discuss if those students are facing punishment.

Meanwhile, the president of Calvin University responded in a letter to the campus community. 

President Michael K. Le Roy wrote in part that Calvin affirms “sexual intimacy is a gift from God to be celebrated in marriage between a man and a woman.” He also said, “we write today to affirm the image of God in our LGBTQ+ friends. We want all of our students to know that they are loved.”

“I wish there was a way that we could mend what happened yesterday in a very respectable way,” Shenk said.

Students have created an online petition urging support for their LGBTQ+ classmates on campus. One woman wrote, “for all my current and former LGBTQ+ students. I see you.”

“It’s not our place to judge people like that,” Kort said.

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