The private “Christ-Centered” Clarks Summit University has closed its doors on a Pennsylvania gay man who was planning to re-enroll in the college to complete his undergraduate degree.
Just six credits away, 35-year-old Gary Campbell previously attended the Lackawanna County university in the early 2000s when it was known as Baptist Bible College. He was planning to return there this fall but last month he learned he was no longer welcome there due to his sexual orientation.
In a FaceTime interview with Eyewitness News Campbell said:
I was heartbroken. I was hurt and essentially I just, I just felt like I was punched in the gut again.
A recovering alcoholic, Campbell wanted to complete his degree so he can help others struggling with addiction.
He told Eyewitness News:
I always spoke highly of the school. I thought it was a great school with a great staff and for them to do this to me, it just felt like a slap in the face!
Clarks Summit University stands by its decision.
In a statement regarding prospective students, they said:
We adhere to biblical truths and expect them to do the same.
Many people who learned about the school’s decision were outraged and began using the hashtag #LetGaryGraduate to help him in the fight for his education—though being a private school, Clarks Summit University was fully within their rights to ban him.
People on Twitter were understandably outraged:
They took his money all these years. ?#LetGaryGraduate
— Liabee (@Liabee9) September 10, 2018
A big thumbs down to all religions who foster an atmosphere of hatred and fear, instead of acceptance, understanding and loving thy neighbors. Let him graduate!
— Theresa (Mother of Felines) (@PropheTessMeW) September 11, 2018
How UNchristian. Take a student’s money, and then don’t allow him to graduate because of who he is. If you consider this man to be a sinner, you should protect him. Jesus was a friend of sinners. #ClarkSummitPharisees
— J Lefever (@jtlefebvre) September 10, 2018
Oh my gosh, this whole story just makes me so sad and upset. Like, I didn't even see anything indicating that he was in a gay relationship?? And he wasn't even on campus to "harm" anyone or their sensitive beliefs! #LetGaryGraduate https://t.co/SLjLhXj0ag
— Jessica Rachel (@TransJessicaaa) September 11, 2018
And some vowed to take action and began rallying the troops:
#Exvangelical community and allies, can we make noise about this by tweeting the hashtag #LetGaryGraduate at @ClarksSummitU?#LGBTQ #FaithfullyLGBTQ #Exvangelical #EmptyThePews #MondayMotivation https://t.co/Kd6GzIUnlF
— Christopher Stroop (@C_Stroop) September 10, 2018
Hey, y'all– I know most of you aren't exvangelical, but you do care about queer people, so if you can help put pressure on @ClarksSummitU to allow Gary the diploma he has earned- I would personally appreciate it.#LetGaryGraduate https://t.co/yChN2cDjTo
— Mean Fat Girl ?️?? (@Artists_Ali) September 10, 2018
No one should attend @ClarksSummitU because it’s an oppressive, discriminatory institution that is currently holding a man’s expensive and hard-earned degree hostage — all because he’s gay. #LetGaryGraduate https://t.co/KwHsQ2r4OW
— M (@pneumajustice) September 10, 2018
Make no mistake, @ClarksSummitU has nothing to be proud of. Discrimination based on sexuality is abhorrent. Taking a student's money, ensuring their credits are non-transferable, and then refusing to let them graduate makes them thieves and fascists. #LetGaryGraduate https://t.co/9Q8mEe2Wfi
— Tabitha the Grey Jedi (@Tabitha_Writes) September 10, 2018
— Out Magazine (@outmagazine) September 12, 2018
Enter Lackawanna College. The college’s president, Mark Volk, sympathized with Campbell’s situation and reached out to him to see if he could help.
Volk told Eyewitness News:
This is right in our mission set of providing opportunities for young men and women who really want to better themselves.
this is……. what? lackawanna college had to help a man get his education because clarks summit uni is so homophobic that they couldn’t let a gay guy get his degree from them? nepa is too much pic.twitter.com/s1o8Tw9i1h
— laina (@lainamilla) September 11, 2018
— Bre ? (@breannbresee) September 11, 2018
The Lackawanna College is currently looking over Campbell’s transcripts to see what can be worked out.
Check out Eyewitness News’ coverage of the story:
These commenters mentioned other universities they say have done the same thing:
I have seen this before. A few years ago #BobJonesUniversity kicked a student out days before graduation (He is also LGBTQ, which I am sure played a part in their decision. Some #Evangelicals actually used this as an argument supporting #BJU 's decision):https://t.co/pZwZXp8cfi
— Marie Smith (@MarieSmith74) September 10, 2018
Brigham Young University has done this in the past. If you leave the Mormon church, you're in violation of the Honor Code, your transcript is frozen and you can't get a copy or graduate. People wait until after they graduate and have transcripts in hand before leaving.
— (((Deana "No Permanent Baby Jails" Holmes))) (@mmmirele) September 10, 2018
Let’s hope that, in six months time, Campbell has his degree from Lackawanna College and can leave all of this behind him.