"I accept that homosexual orientation is not something that's chosen, and I think the scientific evidence is clear on that," says Loren Swartzendruber, President of Eastern Mennonite University. He told students and faculty that he accepts homosexuals, but the Mennonite church doesn't accept homosexual behavior, and the EMU administration stands by that.
"I believe this does need to be a safe place for all of us, of any sexual orientation," says Swartzendruber. A forum was held on the EMU campus Tuesday to address those safety issues and encourage discussion. Some say it's a good first step. "We're here to support them, we want to continue these dialogues," says Michael Shank, an EMU student and gay rights supporter. "Monthly, weekly, whatever it takes."
But even those in support of gay rights say steps could have been taken to accommodate those against the issue, to voice concern or ask questions. "Steps could have been made to make it comfortable for everyone to speak," says Katie Resendiz, an EMU Student and Gay Rights Supporter. "I'm happy with the outcome. I'm happy to have heard the community voice."
Off camera, students say the issue confuses them, and they would like spiritual guidance on the relationship of religion and homosexuality. Others are just happy the discussion has begun. "This is the beginning of a long road, and I hope the administration is willing to walk that difficult road," says Shank.