Washington

Did SPU break any laws in its decision to stop hiring LGBTQ faculty?

In a recent vote at Seattle Pacific University on Monday, the board of trustees effectively banned the hiring of LGBTQ faculty.

“Under the lifestyle expectations section of their employee handbook, they say that employees are ‘expected to refrain from sexual behavior that is inconsistent with the university’s understanding of biblical standards including cohabitation, extramarital sexual activity, and same-sex sexual activity,’” former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna told Dave Ross.

He added, “This makes it impossible for LGBTQ folks to work for Seattle Pacific University, at least openly, if they’re going to have any kind of, you know, a sex life.”

The former attorney general said he thinks because the Methodist university has been around for a long time, they’ll stick with what they know.

“It’s legal because Seattle Pacific University is a religious organization,” McKenna said.

But while the university chose to maintain its employee expectations, some board members resigned following the decision.

“Apparently three board members from the board of trustees are not returning, two have resigned and one has declined to be appointed, so there must be some internal discomfort and dissension as well,” McKenna said.

Despite the discomfort and some common ground, McKenna said SPU acted within the law and other religious universities have the same, or similar, requirements.

“We have strong laws protecting LGBTQ members from this kind of discrimination. It couldn’t happen at your typical public or private employer, it couldn’t happen at a public university or college,” McKenna said.

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