The commencement ceremony at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) took a surprising turn after students handed interim University President Pete Menjares dozens of small pride flags to protest the school’s anti-LGBTQ+ employment policies.
Several seniors walked on stage to receive their diplomas from Menjares and proceeded to give him small rainbow flags and other pride-related items. Some even refused to shake the president’s hand to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.
The demonstration was organized by the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific (ASSP) as part of its efforts to revoke the “Employee Lifestyle Expectations” policy. The new protocol requires full-time employees to “reflect a traditional view on Biblical marriage and sexuality,” which means “same-sex sexual activity” is prohibited.
“So much of our college experience has been engulfed by this issue. It just felt like this was the appropriate way to go out,” graduating senior and former SPU student government president Laur Lugos said.
Lugos reportedly handed Menjares a handwritten note which urged the president to resign from his position.
No to LGBT+ Discrimination
Efforts to oppose the discriminatory policy have been ongoing. ASSP organized a sit-in at the campus administration building outside of Menjares’ office after the Employee Lifestyle Expectations policy was announced.
“The graduation demonstration was part of an ongoing series of actions that are being taken to protest the school’s anti-LGBTQ+ employment policies,” graduating student Chloe Guillot told The Hill.
“Many of us have been participating in a sit-in outside the president’s office for 3 weeks, and we didn’t want to shake the president’s hand because of the harm he has done to this campus,” Guillot said. “So instead of shaking his hand, we decided to give him a pride flag as a symbol that we aren’t going anywhere and we aren’t going to stop fighting until this policy is changed.“