– Antonella Kinder
– Feature Photo: Ash and Chess
In 2011 Searcy, Arkansas’s very own Harding University (a conservative, private, Church of Christ university) made national news when it banned and blocked access to a LGBTQ, student created e-magazine, “State of the Gay”.
The e-mag’s mission? “To give voice to the experiences of gay and lesbian students at Harding… We fully believe in the potential of communities to be free of oppression, hatred and misunderstanding of queer individuals.”
Harding University released this statement in response to the national criticism, detailing the school’s decision to ban and block the LGBTQ e-mag.
“Harding University is a private Christian university who mission and policies are rooted in biblical principles. All students are given a copy of the handbook and know about our mission and policies before their first day on campus. The student handbook states that the university holds to the biblical principle that sexual relationships are unacceptable to God outside the context of marriage and that sexual immorality in any form will result in suspension from the university” – David Crouch, Director of Public Relations, Harding University (Read the full statement here)
Harding University’s policies on LGBTQ doesn’t appear to have changed.
“Students are prohibited from being married to or dating a person of the same sex. Neither may students engage in behavior suggesting a romantic relationship with a person of the same sex. Sexual immorality in any form will result in suspension from the university.” – Harding University, Student Handbook 2017-2018
Harding University’s repressed LGBTQ students need for acceptance, safety and community also remains unchanged.
Seven years after “State of the Gay” e-mag’s ban and block, Harding University LGBTQ students have banned together and anonymously created a new magazine, “Harding University Queer Press 2.0: Hear Queer Voices”.
“… change is usually scary. The fear of the unknown, the uncertainty. But change can be a good thing, such as in the case of representation of the LGBTQ+ students here at Harding University… We at HUQP 2.0 have a few suggestions for the Harding administration as to how policies could change to benefit all the students, not just the heterosexual ones.
The first change that we suggest is an easy one: let us exist.” – Change on Campus, Harding University Queer Press 2.0: Hear Queer Voices
In addition to being available online, the magazine received anonymous donations, allowing these students to print 650 copies of HUQP 2.0 for distribution on campus.
One anonymous founder spoke to Mad Girls Mag about their mission and their experience as a LGBTQ student at Harding.
“There are people – repressed, lonely and lost – on this campus, and I just want them to know they aren’t alone. Queer people have to be closeted here, and there are handbook rules against us having relationships. I’m not trying to shame the university. I want it to be better.”
Attending Harding as a queer student is surreal… bible classes preach against you, queer students who report threats get recommended to bible studies, and no one talks about LGBTQ+ rights or history except for a few, select classes. I’ve met two upperclassmen this semester who have suffered through their time at Harding without community or even any knowledge of other queer students on campus. Everyone deserves community and love, and I [created HUQP 2.0: Hear Queer Voices] so that maybe I can give that to people.” – Anonymous Student at Harding University & Co-Founder of HUQP 2.0: Hear Queer Voices
How will Harding University respond to the revival of Harding University Queer Press? Will the university pull another block and ban or will it finally allow LGBTQ students to have a voice? Will it’s policies change, allowing LGBTQ students to exist and have open relationships?
To support “Hear Queer Voices” and LGBTQ students at Harding University…
– visit their magazine online
– share this post and spread the word