Here at GetReligion, we’ve critiqued endless stories where a gay student (or faculty member) didn’t get the memo about the sexual standards of an evangelical Protestant or Catholic institution that they have chosen to attend — even when they actually signed the documents.
Whether they’re called covenants, creeds or behavior codes, such standards are moral, doctrinal and increasingly legal agreements between students and these private voluntary associations. Sometimes students are made to sign some sort of statement attesting that they’ve been informed of what these standards are.
Typically, the standards demand, among other things, that students not engage in extramarital sex. And “marital” is defined as marriage between a man and a woman.
Alas, a recent Religion News Service story forgot to ask those basic questions in its story about a lesbian seminary student married to a woman. Instead we hear of the “homophobic” seminary and the guileless student.
(RNS) — Over her four years at Fuller Theological Seminary’s campus in Houston, Joanna Maxon had come out to most of her teachers and classmates, and many knew that she was married to a woman.
But after Maxon turned over a copy of her tax return, filed jointly with her wife, as part of her annual financial aid application earlier this year, a complaint about her marriage was brought to the dean. In October 2018, less than a year before she expected to graduate, she was suddenly dismissed.
Months went by before Maxon could stand to make the situation public.
“It took me a while to get to the point where I could talk about it,” Maxon said. “It feels like trauma.”
But once she was ready to share her story in June, Maxon’s wife and friend got into contact with Brave Commons.
Then the story turns into a press release.