Clarks Summit University (CSU) recently dismissed Gary Campbell – who was only two courses away from graduating – because he is gay. Campbell originally enrolled at CSU in 2001, knowing he was gay, but, at the time, believing he could change his sexuality. He left the school in 2003 and joined the military. After a bout with alcoholism, he applied to finish his degree as part of his recovery. His hope was to go on to help people who struggle with addiction. But CSU denied him that on the grounds that they adhere to so-called “biblical sexuality.”
In response to Campbell’s dismissal, Ky McGinnis, a CSU alum, wrote the following open letter…
To Dr. Jim Lytle, the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Clarks Summit University, formerly Baptist Bible College:
I write this with shaking hands. I hope to convey through these words the anger and frustration I feel towards CSU, specifically regarding the dismissal of Mr. Gary Campbell. A gay man you refused to allow to finish the degree he was two classes away from. You dismissed him because he was gay, which in many ways is not a surprise. The local community now has the smallest glimpse of your bigotry and hate. Especially towards queer people.
I myself am a queer person who lived on your campus. I sat in your classes and walked through Jackson Hall. I met with Dr. Lytle. I received counseling from Ms. Faye Moore. At the time, I was trying very hard to be the good evangelical boy. But I’m not a man. Or a woman. I am non-binary, something you do not recognize.
I say all this to make it clear that the action you have taken with Mr. Campbell does not surprise me. In many ways, I have been waiting for a situation like this since I walked off your campus. The campus where I was told in one of Lynelle Buchanan’s classes that gay men caused eating disorders in women, since gay men control the fashion industry and want to make all women look like little boys so they can have sex with them. The amount of stereotyping and bigotry in the half hour rant Mrs. Buchanan embarked on about that issues is still one of the most mind-boggling things I have ever heard. It was on your campus where I was exposed to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a known hate group who believes that queer people are trying to erode the moral underpinnings of this country and thus try to persecute queer and trans* people every chance they get. It was on your campus where I was told that my anxiety was caused by “sin” or “not trusting God” and listening to secular music, by a counseling professor. I have heard stories from your campus from survivors of sexual assault, who were told they shouldn’t have encouraged their assault. That the future ministry of their attacker was more important. I have heard other queer people tell me of the conversion therapy they went through on your campus.
This is why you have my ire and my derision. The despicable way you have treated Mr. Campbell is evident of the way you hold anyone who is not a straight, cisgendered man in contempt. You are a house of bigotry and hate. For a place that claims that “Christ is at the center” of what you do, you act as if you have never read His words. I do not believe Christ has ever even been present on your campus.
Ky E. McGinniss
Ky McGinniss is a nonbinary activist working out of Dunmore and Scranton. A contemplative mystic from the Christian tradition, they envision a world where the whole queer community can be free. They enjoy working through these difficult conversations while playing weird music and reading far too many books.
Also by Ky McGinniss:
Queens, Divas, & Pioneers