Gay-themed group denied charter at Point Loma Nazarene University

Supporters of group include GLAAD

SAN DIEGO - Some students at Point Loma Nazarene University are calling for change after a failed attempt to form a gay-themed student group.

Point Loma Nazarene senior Sean Lewis, who is openly gay, said he and others often feel unwelcome on campus.

"I've gotten messages on Facebook ... warning me that I'm going to hell," said Lewis.

The school is associated with the Church of the Nazarene, an evangelical Christian denomination.

To lessen that angst among gay students, Lewis recently spearheaded a campaign to begin a gay-themed discussion group.

Lewis read a portion of the mission statement to 10News.

"We hope LGBT students can share their neglected stories, lingering questions and increasing trials with their Christian comrades," he read.

Lewis applied for a charter for his group, but he was recently called into a meeting and told by Caye Smith, the school's vice president of student development, that there would be no be group.    

"It would be problematic for us to charter any group that would be contrary to the positions of the Church of the Nazarene," said Smith.

"We're not asking you to violate a belief system; we're asking you to treat students ... like people," said Lewis.

Supporters of the group have started a petition drive that's drawn the support of national gay groups, including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Among those endorsing the petition is Gene Robinson, the Episcopal church's first gay bishop and author of a new book.

10News reporter Michael Chen asked, "Student organizers say this rejection could lead to a culture of isolation and fear."

"I would reject that," responded Smith. "We encourage discussions. We affirm those students are individuals created in the image of God."

Smith said forums have been put on to discuss the topic of sexuality, and a student code says all should be treated with dignity.

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