With the much-anticipated Supreme Court of Canada hearing facing Trinity Western University this fall, it's no surprise that One TWU has been the subject of many questions surrounding the law case. Before going any further, it's important to note that we are not legal experts. Our experience and stories still speak to the current predicament. However, if you're looking for a complex legal analysis as to whether TWU should, and moreover whether they can, win then this is probably not the best outlet for your questions. Yet, there are some key factors to this case, and the larger context surrounding it, that we can speak to.
First of all, the covenant remains unchanged. That's no surprise to LGBTQ+ alumni. If there was a clear beacon that the covenant's amendment was on the horizon, perhaps we wouldn't have had such negative, mixed in with some albeit positive, experiences. And, despite whether it's used or not, Trinity Western continues to reserve the right to expel LGBTQ+ persons, specifically those who are in relationships.
Second, we have yet to receive an apology. In 2016, the Mars Hill Newspaper (see the story here: http://www.marshillonline.com/) published a story featuring the experiences of LGBTQ+ alumni. This was followed by a spotlight in the Vancouver Sun (http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/queer-at-twu), and an even more in-depth story by Daily Xtra (read it here). Before these stories were written, we had several meetings with President Bob Kuhn and other members of the administration. This was not a calculated attack. This was the result of being methodically ignored for several years. And when our stories finally came to the surface, and into the public sphere we still did not receive an apology.
Finally, the persecution complex is perhaps the highest it has ever been. President Bob Kuhn has said this case is fighting for the freedom of all Canadians. Ironically, he states, "In Canada... We don’t protect the rights of one community by extinguishing the rights of another. This is not a time to start down that path" (read the full story here). And yet TWU continues to fight for the right to expel those who cannot subject themselves to this premise: namely, LGBTQ+ students. Considering this is what this case hinges on, we have to wonder, "is our freedom being fought for?" Moreover, if Canadian-wide freedom is being fought for by those seeking the freedom to continue withholding the power to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students, is that really a freedom we want extended Canada wide? The answer is no. But at the end of the day, the discourse not only tries to equate being discriminated against for being gay with being "discriminated" against for being homophobic, but pushes further to suggest that in fact the LGBTQ+ community is the chief discriminator, not TWU.
The task of realizing inclusion and equal treatment of LGBTQ+ students is one that will remain urgent no matter the result of this law school case. It's one that will put evangelicalism in a spotlight, to see how we truly handle people we disagree with. Will we take the opportunity to prove to people that Christians are not homophobic, instead of just saying we aren't? Will we follow in the steps of previous issues, such as denominational rifts and divorce (still in progress), and realize our disagreements should not preclude us from loving and living in full community with those we disagree with?
Although the ultimate legal ramifications of this case may not affect us, it represents a turning point, or perhaps sticking point, in the relations between TWU Administration and LGBTQ students. Wrapped up in this moment is an example of how well we can disagree with each other. And, whether community at TWU is defined by who it excludes or who it includes.
So although this isn't about the law school, at the same time it kind of is.