Christian University Grads Hand School President Pride Flags in Protest of Anti-LGBTQ+ Policies

·3 min read
Christian University Grads Hand School President Rainbow Flags in Protest of Anti-LGBTQ Policies https://www.instagram.com/p/Ceu3Ds7jzR6/ engaygetheculture Happy graduation! We hope Dr. Menjares enjoyed our senior gift(s). Edited · 3d
Christian University Grads Hand School President Rainbow Flags in Protest of Anti-LGBTQ Policies https://www.instagram.com/p/Ceu3Ds7jzR6/ engaygetheculture Happy graduation! We hope Dr. Menjares enjoyed our senior gift(s). Edited · 3d

engaygetheculture/Instagram

The class of 2022 is making their voices heard.

Graduating students at Seattle Pacific University handed the school's interim president Dr. Pete C. Menjares rainbow Pride flags in lieu of shaking his hand during Sunday's commencement ceremony in protest of the Christian school's anti-LGBTQ+ policies for employees.

"It started just as a conversation among students that we didn't really want to shake the president's hand at graduation," said Chloe Guillot, who helped organize the protest told CNN. "So, we thought what can we do instead of that? And the idea came up: why don't we hand out a pride flag?"

RELATED: 31 Alleged White Nationalists Arrested for Conspiracy to Riot at Idaho Pride Celebration

Menjares said in a statement to PEOPLE: "It was a wonderful day to celebrate with our graduates. Those who took the time to give me a flag showed me how they felt and I respect their view."

Guillot told Today that the Pride Month grad demonstration almost didn't happen, as they originally ordered rainbow erasers, which didn't arrive on time. Luckily, someone showed up at the last minute with some rainbow flags.

"They were gone very quickly, and if we would have been able to get more there would have been more participation," Guillot said, noting that 40 to 50 students participated in the protest.

She recounted telling Menjares that they won't "stop until the policy changes," explaining that the university has a tendency to wait for seniors to graduate to avoid resolving issues. As she's returning to SPU next year for her master's in theology, Guillot plans to keep fighting the policies.

"I'm a theology major. I'm a lifelong Christian. It's really important to me that people understand that Christianity is not inherently this religion that is supposed to be hateful and exclusive. And it's not supposed to be something that's weaponized to keep people out. The God that I believe in would be right there protesting with us," Guillot told Today.

The school's "Employee Lifestyle Expectation" detail that employees should refrain from "sexual behavior that is inconsistent with the University's understanding of Biblical standards, including cohabitation, extramarital sexual activity, and same-sex sexual activity," according to the SPU website.

The SPU board of trustees voted to uphold the policy last month, explaining in a statement that it "reflect[s] a traditional view on Biblical marriage and sexuality, as an expression of long-held church teaching and biblical interpretation."

Students have since staged a sit-in in the school's administration building, Demaray Hall, pressuring the board to reverse the policy, according to The Seattle Times. Students, staff and alumni have been signing up for shifts and they plan to continue the sit-in until after the semester ends.

"Students have organized it and have been the ones putting it together, but the entire community is backing this and supporting this," student body president Laur Lugos told the newspaper, noting that some have even pledged to withhold donations from the school until they change the policy.

RELATED VIDEO: Robin Roberts on Faith, Love and the Power of Visibility

This year has provided plenty of obstacles for the LGBTQ+ community, with data from HRC showing that eight states have signed anti-LGBTQ+ laws into effect this year and another 28 states have introduced legislation. Many of the laws target LGBTQ+ students and youth.

President Joe Biden addressed the "discriminatory legislative attacks" in an executive order he signed on Wednesday, advancing LGBTQ+ equality through healthcare, housing, federal programs and a crackdown on conversion therapy.