Belmont has had a rocky past when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues on campus.
Under new leadership there’s hope for better relationships and inclusivity going forward.
The university recently came under scrutiny from some students for its decisions regarding LGBTQ+ issues. This included a recent Instagram post celebrating Pride Month as well the cancellation of a Promise Keepers event.
In Belmont’s first statement it said that it wanted to avoid groups who were trying to “unnecessarily fan the flames of culture wars and are harmful to members of our community.”
Noticeably missing were the words LGBTQ+ students and faculty.
This was rectified in a second statement made by Belmont providing further context on why they wouldn’t work with Promise Keepers. “It has always been about the way Promise Keepers chose to speak about the LGBTQ community, further inflaming the cultural polarization across our country and potentially hurting members of our community,” said President Jones.
These decisions are certainly moves in the right direction for encouraging relationships with the LGBTQ+ community on campus. It highlights how far the university has come, especially given actions under the previous administration.
In 2010, Belmont’s women's soccer coach was dismissed just days after telling players she would be having a child with her wife. It was announced as a “mutual decision” between the coach and the university.
This event showcased the continued difficulties of existence and acceptance in religious spaces for many in the LGBTQ+ community.
It also made a statement.
Belmont was not a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals.
That seemed to be true until changes were made to the university’s non-discrimination policy. In 2011, the change was made to include “sexual orientation” among already listed areas in the policy.
Students still wanted to see further support with a space to feel safe to meet and talk about LGBTQ+ issues. Within the same year, the university founded Bridge Builders.
As a university sponsored organization that openly encouraged LGBTQ+ discussions, it was seen as a win for these students on campus, but it came with a caveat.
The organization had to operate through a faith-based lens.
Not exactly what many hoped to hear, resulting in a few students forming their own non-affiliated groups off campus.
It appeared even with these changes made to policy, LGBTQ+ students still felt uncertain of whether they would be accepted on campus.
Considering Belmont’s past, where does it stand on LGBTQ+ support today and going forward?
That much is still uncertain, but the future looks better than it ever has with the potential for further inclusion and support beyond what students have received.
At least, that’s the hope.
LGBTQ+ students and faculty deserve more substantial change and support beyond what they’ve gotten historically.
They deserve more than just an Instagram post and a single university approved organization.
This article was written by Braden Simmons