38-year-old Alex Duron was all set to begin his graduate studies in Nurse Anesthesia at Union University in Tennessee later this month. The Christian school seemed to be a perfect fit given his own faith. But last week, his admission was rescinded after Union officials realized his housing application and social media profiles said he would be living with his partner. (His current Facebook profile says he’s engaged.)
In other words, he wasn’t just gay. He was acting on it. And that violated the Southern Baptist-affiliated school’s “Community Values Statements” which condemns “promotion, advocacy, defense or ongoing practice of a homosexual lifestyle (including same-sex dating behaviors) is also contrary to our community values.”
Duron posted his un-admission letter on Facebook:
This weekend I received very bad news regarding the institution I chose for my continued education. It turns out that a faith-informed education from Union University is not God’s plan for me, because Union University is not “informed” enough to not recognized that bigotry masked as religion is not Christian at all. My God taught me to love they neighbor (Leviticus 19:18) and not to judge as is told in the book of Matthew.
I am writing to let the public know that this is not ok. There are several words to describe what has occurred: Bigotry, Prejudice, Heterosexism, Homophobia. What has happened to me is not the worst part. Did you know that this is 100% Legal? Did you know that Union University is not a fully private school and accepts federal funding? Did you know that your taxes are allowing them to discriminate against LGBTQ+ and their allies?…
Duron said he was aware of the school’s policies but assumed it meant he needed to stay in the closet (a different problem but still a problem), not that he couldn’t even live with his partner.
As we’ve said before — and as Duron admitted — this is all legal. The school has every right to set its own rules, as bigoted as they may be. Most Christian schools like this will say homosexuality itself isn’t the issue; it’s acting on it. So, technically, they didn’t rescind his admission for being gay — as some articles‘ headlines have suggested — but for going further than that. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s still worth pointing out.
That doesn’t let the school off the hook, though. To deny admission to a nursing student with experience in treating COVID-19 patients, at the height of a pandemic, in a city that’s currently experiencing a nursing shortage, seems incredibly irresponsible. This is the time to loosen thoughtless restrictions, not double down on them. What’s more, Union says it’ll admit students who aren’t even Christian as long as those students agree to abide by their rules. So a straight atheist could attend the school, but a gay Christian in a relationship is a dealbreaker.
How much of the blame, then, should be placed on Duron for not understanding the environment he was entering? And how much should blame should go to the school for treating a non-issue as a black mark? That’s up for debate. But this scenario happens far too often.
It’s tempting to say students in Duron’s position should have just applied elsewhere, but there are usually legitimate reasons they applied to these schools in particular. Maybe their parents offered to cover tuition if they attended a religious school, or their partner lives in that city, or it’s just the best program for their career.
There is hope for Duron, though:
… he said he feels like he “dodged a bullet” by not attending Union, and said since going public with his story he’s been contacted by nursing schools around the country trying to find a way to grant him admission for the fall.
Those other schools will be lucky to have him.