WACO, Texas — The Baylor University Board of Regents approved guiding principles of caring for all students on Friday, which includes LGBTQ+ students attending the university.
This includes the possibility of establishing a new chartered student group that adheres to the school's core commitments, as well as its policies and statements, a news release said.
This measure was approved along with the 2021-2022 budget, plans to renovate the dorms and plans to start construction on a new welcome center named after Mark and Paula Hurd.
The Board said it acknowledged that the university has a responsibility of serving all students, regardless of sexuality, based on these three guiding principles:
- "The dignity and worth of all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, as we strive to fulfill our Christian commitment of a caring community
- The biblical understanding that sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage between a man and a woman are not in keeping with the teaching of Scripture, as summarized in the University’s Statement on Human Sexuality
- Our commitment to providing a welcoming, supportive educational environment based on civility and respect for all"
Overall, this measure stemmed from the continuous effort of the unofficial LGBTQ+ student group, Gamma Alpha Upsilon and their decade-long fight to be recognized as an official university charter.
"As a Board of Regents, we recognize that Baylor’s LGBTQ+ students continue to seek care, connections, and community on our campus and a sense of belonging within the Baylor Family," the resolution announced Friday states. "As an important and faithful expression of our Christian mission, we desire to establish trust with our LGBTQ+ students so that, among other things, they might seek out the resources provided by Baylor.”
Emma Fraley, who just graduated from Baylor and was the President of Gamma Alpha Upsilon last year, said things are moving in the right direction.
"What the university has done is say, 'Okay, we're going to come up with a solution now,'" she said. "The fact they were willing to do their own research and dig a little deeper is a really good sign to me."
The Waco Pride Network, which works to foster the LGBTQ+ community, has been watching and are pleased with the movement forward.
"We are encouraged by some of the steps no matter how small, that Baylor has made, but there is still a long way to go to recognize the full humanity and dignity of LGBTQ+ students at Baylor," they told 6 News in a statement. "We are here as a resource for the LGBTQ community in Waco, including students at Baylor. We will continue to work to support and celebrate the LGBTQ community here in Waco."
The incoming board members of Gamma Alpha Upsilon also told 6 News, in a statement, they look forward to more discussions in the new year.
"We look forward to a discussion with Baylor about what LGBTQ+ students desire from their university in a potential university-charted organization. We appreciate that we will have this opportunity and hope that Baylor will be receptive to our unique experiences and needs on this campus," they said.
The board tasked President Linda Livingstone and Baylor's administration to determine how the school can provide additional care, connections and community for its LGBTQ+ students, including the possibility of establishing a new chartered student group.
“We look forward to moving forward on the charge in that resolution and doing it in a way that respects the principles outlined there and respects our values and mission and then our deep care for our students,” Livingstone said.
Fraley said this isn't about forcing a Christian college to change its policy, rather it's about growing together.
"It's more about opening your perspective a little bit more to understand that there are people who can expand your understanding of what it means to be a Christian, especially a Baptist," Fraley said.
Despite this resolution, however, Gamma Alpha Upsilon is still unrecognized.