Building Bridges of Solidarity
On Saturday April 9th, student-athletes at Pomona College in Southern California hosted a solidarity action at their 30th annual Pomona Pitzer Track and Field Invitational where 47 schools were participating in the day’s meets. Present among the at least 10 religious schools that day were Cal Baptist (where a transgender student was expelled in 2011 and the judge ruled in favor of the school), Pepperdine University (currently in a Title IX lawsuit over the harassment of two lesbian basketball players), and Fresno Pacific University (who got their Title IX exemption from regulations related to gender identity last year) just to name a few. Ellen and Jordan, organizers of the action, wrote about their experience as students not affiliated with religious schools and mentioned their encounter with one individual from Master’s College who was particularly displeased with their public display of solidarity. I think we all took something away from that day. Some of us were encouraged as others unaffected by our issue stood just as boldly alongside us and speak just as passionately for our cause. Some of us were shocked to witness exactly how small the neighborhood is that houses friendly competitive sports and hostile anti-LGBTQI rhetoric. But we all learned a little more about why it’s ultimately important to spread awareness of what’s going on with Title IX and build bridges of solidarity across all our liberation efforts. On Tuesday, April 19th, the 4th Circuit of Court Appeals upheld the interpretation of Title IX that includes protections against anti-transgender discrimination in education. This landmark ruling has momentous implications for Christian universities. Biola University, for example, received 6.8 million in federal funds last year and currently has a pending Title IX exemption to be exempt from equal opportunity regulations in respect to gender identity. It the mist of religious freedom bills and the notorious grandfather bill of them all, NC HB2, this decision may also have a surprising consequential implication for public universities in North Carolina as well. Tucked into the new law, otherwise dubbed as the “Bathroom Bill”, is also a prohibition disallowing schools from allowing transgender people to use the facilities of their gender identity. If HB2 is not repealed, North Carolina may be at risk for losing the $4.58 billion for education funding they are expected to receive this year for this Title IX violation. Now more than ever we are seeing the ways in which Christian supremacy--under the guise of “religious freedom”--makes the world an increasingly hostile place for queer and trans people. Our Christian college campuses have always been harmful to queer and trans people. They have always rejected anything deviant from the cis-het binary. They have created an atmosphere of fear where LGBTQI people ingest their own self hatred as a tactic to keep them quiet. They have perpetuated violence and remained complicit to discrimination against queer and trans people on their campuses. And now, the students at over 50 public schools in North Carolina and may be feeling the weight of all this as well.