Students respond to Hope College's new stance on sexuality

7:40 PM, Jan 31, 2011   |    comments
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HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM)- Students are responding to Hope College's updated position on homosexuality.

The board of trustees adopted the college's new statement on human sexuality during its meeting Friday, January 28.

It reads: "Sexuality, including longing and expression, is a good gift from God and a fact of our existence affirmed in the Christian scriptures and by the Church throughout the centuries. This biblical witness calls us to a life of chastity among the unmarried and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman."

"Hope College is supposed to be this open, Christian environment where you can have an academic experience," said Hope is Ready Leader Alison Bernard. "We don't understand where a policy against human sexuality fits into that."

Hope is Ready is a student group that formed in response to Hope's 1995 position that denies homosexual behavior on campus.

"We believe that the institution is made up of faculty and staff and students that don't agree with this policy," Bernard said. "The policy is written in very broad strokes."

The organization, which claims to have collected more than 700 signatures allying with their position, is not officially recognized by the school.

The statement later continues:"Hope College will not recognize or support campus groups whose aim by statement, practice or intimation is to promote a vision of human sexuality that is to this understanding of biblical teaching."

"Communication between the administration and the students stinks. It's not good at all, it's almost non-existent," said Michael Parmelee. "There's no one way to interpret the Bible and there's no one right way to interpret the Bible."

The college says it will continue to provide safe places and educational programs for students to discuss issues of human sexuality.

Administrators declined to comment on their recent announcement or student response.

The matter at Hope College eventually spread to the city, with a proposed ordinance to adopt and anti-discrimination law for Holland.

Reverend Jennifer Adams organized the group Holland is Ready to push for the law. She released a statement to WZZM 13 on the college's position:

"While we recognize that this new policy is internal to Hope College, we also acknowledge that the policy affects and disappoints many at the College and in the larger community. Holland is Ready strives to help greater Holland grow in compassion, understanding, and diversity with regard to GLBT people and their families. Other faithful Christian colleges and denominations are working toward these same goals. We look forward to a time when Hope College will lead on these issues of justice and equality, standing with those who are committed to the safety, rights and inclusion of all people."

Holland's Human Relations Commission unanimously voted to pass the proposal. The matter is now being discussed and tailored at City Hall where it can be adopted or denied through council vote.

By Steve Patterson

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