A leaked draft of a “statement of belief” by Lee University officials has caused disappointment and outrage among some students and alumni for its position on sexuality and gender.
The statement says Lee students, faculty and staff members should “diligently seek to embrace and live consistent with their God-given biological sex” and cannot “publicly identify or behave as” another gender. The statement acknowledges the university’s stances “may raise challenges for those who experience same-sex attraction or have questions about their gender/sexuality.”
Kendra Mann, a spokesperson for the Christian institution in Tennessee, told NewsChannel 9 Tuesday that the leaked document reaffirms existing policies at the university and does not reflect any “sweeping changes.” The statement, shared in advance with faculty and staff members, was supposed to be released Aug. 1.
The Affirming Alum Collective, a Facebook group of LGBTQ alumni and allies, posted that the group was “deeply saddened and frustrated” by the document’s contents.
“To our fellow LGBTQIA+ and affirming Lee alum, students, faculty and staff, we stand with you and are grieving with you,” the post read.
The university previously drew criticism from LGBTQ alumni for excluding the words “gender” and “gender identity” from its antidiscrimination policy in its 2021–22 student handbook. Lee University president Mark Walker also vocally reiterated the university’s long-held stance that same-sex sex relationships are prohibited by Scripture in a statement and during a chapel service last spring.