New group to promote LGBT discussions

Editor’s Note: OneJBU is an outside organization led by JBU alumni.

Human sexuality is a topic that has generated much debate at JBU over the years. This spring, I announced the formation of a group called OneJBU. OneJBU was started by several alumni in 2012, and now has over 150 members whose mission is to be a resource and support to LGBT and questioning students at JBU.

Since then, much has happened related to local and national LGBT issues. Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and now allows same-sex couples access to over 1,100 federal benefits. Exodus International disbanded and issued a public apology to those that were harmed by their methods of reparative therapy.

Yet, not all the news has favored the gay community. Russia passed a strict anti-gay law, which has led to the bullying, beating and arrests of countless victims. Suicide rates among LGBT youth and college students remains catastrophically high – The Suicide Prevention Resource Center estimates that 30-40 percent of LGBT youth in the US have attempted suicide. Our very own community experienced three LGBT-related suicides this summer (that we know of), including one JBU alumnus.

I am a JBU alumnus and former staff member. I am a missionary kid from Russia. I am a Christian. I am gay. This is an incredibly personal issue to me. I pray for the students, staff and faculty at JBU who feel unsafe (as I did) to openly and honestly explore their sexuality for fear of the repercussions to their education or their careers.

JBU has made tremendous progress recently in how it approaches and deals with homosexuality. That progress is encouraging, and there is more honest dialogue happening now than ever before. Yet I know after hearing from many students and staff at JBU after the event in April that a spirit of fear still exists when it comes to this issue and there needs to be more conversation. OneJBU wants to be a part of that conversation.

OneJBU is a community of alumni who love our alma mater and want to see JBU move to place of deeper acceptance with its gay and lesbian students, staff and faculty. We know that the process of discovering one’s sexuality can be confusing and lonely. For those questioning their sexuality, we are here for you. For those that identify as LGBT and are looking for a welcoming community, we are here for you. For anyone who has questions about the issue, or needs guidance on how to respond to a loved one who has just come out, we are here for you.

On Thursday, September 19 at 7:30 p.m., we will host an open forum at Pour Jons on the second floor to discuss your reactions to the “Faith & Sexuality” event. We’d love for you to come and share your thoughts. Follow our “OneJBU” Facebook group to stay informed.

We want to keep the discussion that was started in April alive—and we want to do it in a spirit of cooperation, compassion, respect and love. I hope to see you at the table.

Jacob Little graduated from JBU with degrees in history and international business. He is now the manager of Talent Development at Walmart. He can be reached at LittleJake@gmagmail.com