Being gay is tantamount to being racist according to a professor at Biola University—a private Christian university located in La Mirada, California. In response to the recently formed Biola Queer Underground, a pro-LGBTQ group on campus, administration hosted a panel discussion entitled Sexuality Matters. Not only did the discussion not include an LGBTQ-inclusive perspective, but one of the panelists, Dr. Erik Thoennes—a white, cisgender straight professor—likened homosexuality to racism.
Going so far as to say LGBTQ identities are like “racist identities,” he asked the audience to “imagine if there was the Biola Racist Underground” and how they would react. When questioned as to why there was not one “Christian pro-gay” perspective on the panel he responded, “I wouldn’t want a pro-racist person on this panel if the question were racism.” In addition to these comments, Dr. Thoennes (who was Biola's Professor of the Year in 2003 and 2007) also referred to trans* identity as a “dysfunction” and “perversion.”
These comments not only propagate homophobia, transphobia, and a distorted view of racism, but they also directly harm the lives of LGBTQ students at Biola—students who can't even speak out about their identities for the fear of expulsion. This is not acceptable. We ask Dr. Erik Thoennes to apologize for his deeply harmful homophobic, transphobic, and racist comments; we also ask Biola University to apologize for its lack of Christian LGBTQ affirming voices present in this dialogue and to commit itself to the inclusion of such perspectives in the future.
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