WACO, Texas (BP) – Baylor University’s Board of Regents approved a resolution Friday (May 14) that paves the way for an officially recognized LGBTQ student group on campus while attempting to reaffirm its commitment to a traditional, biblical perspective on homosexuality and marriage.
Describing a “challenging situation,” the resolution said the regents remained committed to “core commitments of our Christian mission,” including: “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;” “the dignity and worth of all, regardless of sexual orientation of gender identity;” and “providing a welcoming, supportive educational environment based on civility and respect for all.”
The resolution said the board of regents “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,” and charged Baylor President Linda Livingstone “to determine the appropriate pathways to provide additional care, connections, and community for Baylor’s LGBTQ students, including the possibility of establishing a new, chartered student group that is consistent with Baylor’s core commitments … and the University’s policies and statements.”
Baylor was founded in 1845 through the Union Baptist Association, predating the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) by three years. Baylor pulled away from direct control by the BGCT in 1990, when it established an independent governing board, but ties between the state convention and the school remain.
The BGCT budgeted $1,627,900 toward Baylor in 2020. The BGCT has earmarked $1,541,542 toward the school in its 2021 budget. Baylor’s operating budget for 2021-22, which was approved Friday by the regents, is $789.4 million.
According to Baylor’s Statement on Human Sexuality, the university affirms “purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior.” It also includes language that “students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.”
Baylor’s policy on sexual conduct states that the school “will be guided by the biblical understanding that human sexuality is a gift from God and that physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity. Thus, it is expected that Baylor students, faculty and staff will engage in behaviors consistent with this understanding of human sexuality.”
“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,” Livingston told reporters afterward, according to the Waco Tribune.
But R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, during his daily podcast “The Briefing,” characterized Baylor’s decision to officially recognize a LGBTQ student group as among “the most significant tripwires” for a school that calls itself Christian.
“If a university or college, or for that matter, a seminary is not abundantly clear about its convictions and the binding nature of those convictions,” Mohler said, “if it actually begins to recruit students or even to accept students who hold to a contrary view and then allows official recognition of that group … you have just sown the seeds for the revolution of your own institution.”
The decision by the regents comes amid continual conversation regarding the issue during recent years.
In 2015, the school altered its sexual misconduct policy, removing language regarding homosexuality. In 2019, an unofficial LGBTQ student group at Baylor received more than 3,000 signatures of support from alumni, faculty and other students in its attempts to receive charter status. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, Livingstone recommended that the group, Gamma Alpha Upsilon, not be provided the charter but a new group to be formed that included its members in order to provide a “clean slate.”
In October 2020, Baylor’s student senate called on the school to reinterpret its statement on human sexuality, approving the bill “No Crying on Sundays” in a 30-15 vote. That measure also called for the addition of a nondiscrimination clause to Baylor’s policies for student organizations. Dissenting student senators termed the discrimination argument sought by the bill’s authors as “repugnant.”
The school’s statement on human sexuality encourages students struggling with those issues to take advantage of outlets offering confidential discussion and support through the school’s Spiritual Life office as well as its counseling center.
According to the regents’ resolution, “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.”