Last March Erskine College students Juan Varona and Drew Davis, both athletes on the school’s Division II volleyball team, publicly came out as gay. The two were concerned about how their announcement would be seen, but reportedly experienced an outpouring of support from teammates and fellow students. Varona expressed disappointment last week when the South Carolina school issued a “Statement on Human Sexuality” that denounces homosexuality. The statement was released on Feb. 20.
Many have taken the statement to mean that the school is banning homosexuality, but in a follow-up statement issued Friday claims that it is merely a statement that describes a position, neither a policy nor a ban. The second statement says that no students, gay or straight, have been asked to leave Erskine.
The school is a small college in a small town in a conservative state, and is aligned with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. One of its mission statements says that “Erskine College exists to glorify God as a Christian academic community.”
The statement released last week begins by stating that the college believes that the Bible teaches that “monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is God’s intended design for humanity…” It goes on to cite biblical verses in support of that opening statement, and ends by saying that “members of the Erskine community are expected to follow the teachings of scripture concerning matters of human sexuality,” and says that “institutional decisions” will consider that position.
The statement was submitted by the Student Services and Athletic Committee, and approved by the full board. It will be added to the official manuals, and the administration will be determining how to integrate the expressed beliefs into campus procedures and cultures.
Varona says that he understands the complexity of addressing homosexuality from a rebellious viewpoint, but thinks this decision may not be the best approach. He said it makes him “sad and worried for other gay people who might be struggling with confidence to come out.”