FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Approximately two months after Fresno Pacific University shut down the formation of an LGBTQ+ pride club on campus, students have formed a coalition with local churches to establish an off-campus support group called “Birds for Pride.”
“The board of trustees and the president denied our request. It was very disappointing,” said Justin St. George, Birds for Pride founder and president.
St. George said they’ve now formed a coalition with 18 local faith organizations, including Willow Avenue Mennonite Church.
“We simply offered them a place to meet. Jesus welcomes all – and we do too,” said church leader Lynn Jost.
“[We can] finally provide resources and a safe space for students,” said St. George. “We had about 50 people in attendance in our first meeting; students, alumni, faculty, community leaders.”
The Birds for Pride founder and president says they have also received backing and support from Dr. Richard Wiebe, whose father founded what was then Fresno Pacific College.
“Just to show the community that there are Christian leaders out there that are open and affirming to the LGBTQ+ population,” he said.
“We believe that the most important thing we understand from scripture is that God is a welcoming God,” said Jost.
Justin St. George says they will continue advocating for the LGBTQ+ community at FPU, and asks the university to reconsider an on-campus pride club.
“For a lot of people college is the first step into their adult life and really discover who they are. And to be told that we’ll accept you and you can pay tuition, but you certainly can’t have a club I think it’s very, very disappointing.”