A Pennsylvania Baptist college has denied a student the opportunity to finish his bachelor’s degree because he is gay.
Gary Campbell first attended the school, then called Baptist Bible College, from 2001 to 2003, before joining the Navy. He was discharged from the Navy for driving drunk on base, and has been sober for 19 months.
He hoped to resume classes at Clarks Summit University after discovering he was just six credit hours away from earning a degree in integrated studies. His plan was to take those two classes online, from his current home in Youngstown, Ohio, and then seek a job working with others in recovery.
But when the college discovered he was gay, his acceptance back into the school was revoked. The news, which he has called “heartbreaking,” prompted him to write an email to Theodore Boykin, associate dean of students, asking the intitution to reconsider.
“One of my top goals being in recovery was to finish my bachelor’s degree. Having a degree is much more to me than a certificate, it’s a culmination of hard work, sweat and tears, and I owe it to myself and to my recovery to accomplish this goal,” he wrote.
“I ask that you not view me only as a homosexual, but as a determined, compassionate, hard-working man who is of good moral character. My goal again is to assist my community and help those who are struggling in the grip of addiction.”
The college declined his request, and said in a statement it expects “all students to act in a way that is consistent with our biblical belief system. We have always clearly stated those beliefs and have exercised the freedom to uphold our faith,” The Citizens’ Voice reports.
“To prepare students for worldwide service opportunities, CSU clearly affirms biblical sexuality. We clearly communicate to all prospective students that we adhere to biblical truths, and expect them to do the same. That is part of what has made CSU a successful educator for more than 80 years.”
“It breaks my heart,” Campbell said. “The school, they teach love and grace, and I’m not being shown that.”
“I always spoke highly of the school. I thought it was a great school with a great staff, and for them to do this to me, it just felt like a slap in the face,” he told WBRE-TV.
Campbell said he has had a difficult time finding another school willing to take most of the credits he earned at Clarks Summit University, with most agreeing to take only around half.
Because the school is a religious institution, he also doesn’t have much legal recourse. Thankfully, there is some good news.
Lackawanna College President Mark Volk read about Campbell’s situation and has offered to find a way to help him.
“For us, it’s about giving people that opportunity, that chance to move forward in their lives and their careers,” Volk said. “When I read it, I thought maybe we could do something…I sent a note to staff, and there is tremendous excitement about it.”
The school, located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, has a history of working with students who were close to graduating elsewhere, matching up their credits with degree requirements at Lackawanna, according to The Citizens’ Voice.