There has been a noticeable increase in searches for “gay rights at Principia,” “Principia homosexual policies,” and “equality at Prin” which appear to be landing people at this blog.
I know there is not a lot that turns up when you search for this stuff, there is the very active Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/ISupportEqualityAtPrin, a multi-page PDF of the Principia College Catalog with the reminder about abstaining from homosexual activity, and the post I made a little while back about Prin’s homosexual policies. There is also the Emergence International group which offers support for gay/lesbian/bisexual Christian Scientists.
So I decided to do some searching around and turned up a catched article from the Principia Pilot in 1999 posted by the http://www.cslesbigay.org (in full below the cut… please note Prin has made some administrative changes, they have a new College President and a new Dean of Students but it seems to sum up their views nicely), and another petition “End Gay Discrimination at Principia.” I also came across an amusing, often irreverent mostly inactive blog, which lampoons some of Prin’s policies: the Lunar Fox Press.
Interestingly the “Chronicle of a gay rights activist“ which I had previously linked to in the Principia Pilot archives now reads as “404-not found.” It served as a reminder that up until 2009 (?) it was forbidden to even TALK about the “homosexual policies” because that was “homosexual activity” and therefore not allowed on campus.
What can you do to make a difference in Prin’s policies and/or learn more about them?
- The I Support Equality at Prin group has a letter writing campaign, you can e-mail them at prinequality (at) gmail (dot) com, or join their group for more information.
- There is a change.org petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/i-support-equality-at-prin
There is a fair bit of information that is only accessible on the campus local network. The college’s main website is devoid of information about their policies, and any articles the Pilot (college paper) puts out are nearly impossible to view. If I happen to come across any further articles I will share them.
I hope to gather more information to share so that people beyond the facebook and members-only groups know about this and can take part in taking action.
*Please note I do not have any animosity towards Principia, just their policies, interpretations and applications of Christian Science, and the Office of Student Life’s need to know about my sex life and Moral Reasoning.
From The PILOT Principia College Student Publication Friday, May 28, 1999.
Principians Divided On Gay And Lesbian Issue
by Grant Adams
In light of recent campus concerns, many Principians are being forced to take a serious look at one of today’s most controversial issues — homosexuality. Indeed, Christian Scientists, like other people of faith, have long struggled with how to “officially” deal with the subject.
Unquestionably, homosexuals have attended or currently attend Principia. Current gay or lesbian students, however, would have to keep quiet about their sexual preference while enrolled because of the school’s unwritten policy.
“Principia does not knowingly admit or hire homosexuals,” said Philip Riley, Principia Director of Personnel. “It is really a policy about extramarital and pre-marital relations, both heterosexual and homosexual. It comes under the category of community standards. Principia views homosexuality as something worth of healing.” Riley noted in 1993, then College President Pfeifer wrote to the PILOT that, “Principia does not accept it as a valid lifestyle or sexual orientation.” What Riley refers to as “community standards” is part of the “Purpose and Policies of The Principia,” as spelled out by the Trustees in Education at the Principia. Homosexuality is viewed as falling under policy number 22.
Page 236 states, “All activities taking place on the campus or within the school or college community whether they occur as part of organized work or as extra-curricular phases of school or college, shall be permitted to exist only to the extent that they are consistent with the purpose and policies of The Principia. Since smoking, the use of intoxicating liquor, and loose social conduct are inconsistent with the teachings of Christian Science, they must be eliminated from the experience of members of the Principia community.”
“I would view homosexuality in much the same was as I do heterosexual cohabitation before marriage,” said Dean of Students Dick Davenport. “Our role is to try to pursue the highest standard for personal growth. Prin has said, to be in the community, all of us need to honor the standards and behave in a way that is consistent with them.”
Much of this policy is based on the interpretation of Principia as a corporation of what it feels is best in line with the teachings of Christian Science. College President George Moffett pointed to several quotations from Science and Health, by Mary Baker Eddy, that help explain and support Principia’s stance on homosexuality. On page 56, for example, she wrote, “Marriage is the legal and moral provision for generation among humankind.” On the following page, “Mrs. Eddy added, “Chastity is the cement of civilization and progress.”
Moffett said of these quotations, “Virtually every dictionary, including the ones Mrs. Eddy herself used, define chastity as the confining of sexual relations to marriage. I think generations of Principia Trustees have extrapolated out from this and concluded that Principia’s current policy is the one that is most consistent with the theology upon which Principia is founded.”
This policy is also consistent with the position of The Mother Church. It is this view, however, that is contested among many Christian Scientists who are gay or lesbian. In fact, to change the assertion that homosexuality is morally wrong, several organized groups of gay and lesbian Christian Scientists have been formed.
The Gay and Lesbian Principians, for example, has been in existence since 1993. The group consists of gay and lesbian alumni who either attended the Upper School, College, or both. The group also include straight alumni who are supportive of its cause. It is currently headed by David White, College class of 1984. Many of these members had similar experiences of feeling isolated and fearful while attending Principia.
“The tragedy is that those people with same-sex orientation who are on campus today must go through those wonderful days on that beautiful campus disguising who they really are because the administration is so unaccepting. I have resigned myself to the fact that there will be no changes in Principia’s philosophy in the near future, but my heart goes out to anyone on campus who has to struggle with his or her sexual identity because some Christian Scientists feel that being gay is wrong and something that needs to be healed,” said a gay prin alum, who wished to remain anonymous.
The Gay and Lesbian Principians hope to change several things about Principia. For one, they would like Principia to accept homosexuals as students, faculty and staff. They would also like the Purpose and the Alumni directory to include information about the partners of gay or lesbian alumni.
The group has met with the administration, — most recently as 1996 — and both parties agreed to disagree on the subject. The administration welcomes all alumni to return to campus, but it has not allowed the group to meet here because the group disagrees with the current policy. the group has also been asked not to use the Principia logo on any of its publications.
“We have respectfully agreed to disagree but out meetings have been characterized by great warmth and cordiality. Every alum is a valued member of the Principia family. This is a subject that need to be dealt with the utmost compassion and without hint of condemnation. It is a matter that Christian Scientists will each have to pray about individually to get a sense of what is right,” Moffett said.