For more than two weeks, students at Seattle Pacific University have continued their protest against the university’s lifestyle policy.
That policy, which restricts teachers in same-sex relationships from working at the university, sparked an uproar among students.
On Sunday, during the school’s graduation, some students handed university president Pete Menjares Pride flags while receiving their diplomas.
The actions were caught on a TikTok video that was uploaded to Twitter and had 3.2 million views by Tuesday afternoon.
The video is captioned, “POV: the president of your university thinks being LGBTQ+ is a ‘lifestyle choice’ and a ‘morality issue’ so you decide to give him a gift at graduation.”
According to the video posted by @engaytheculture, at least 14 students presented the president a small flag while he presented them with their diploma.
The current policy expects employees to refrain from sexual behavior that conflicts with the university’s understanding of Biblical standards, which includes cohabitation, extramarital sexual activity, and same-sex sexual activity.
According to SPU, because it’s a religious organization, the university can prefer current and future employees to hold certain beliefs, participate in certain religious observances and refrain from conduct based on the university’s beliefs.
Free Methodist pioneers founded the university in 1891, which maintains close relationships with local Free Methodist churches.
“We want the community of SPU to know that this was a thorough and prayerful deliberation,” said board chair Cedric Davis. “While this decision brings complex and heart-felt reactions, the Board made a decision that it believed was most in line with the university’s mission and Statement of Faith and chose to have SPU remain in communion with its founding denomination, the Free Methodist Church USA, as a core part of its historical identity as a Christian university.”
The board also acknowledged their decision may be met with disagreement, noting the topics of sexuality and identity are sources of controversy among Christians.
The decision does not affect students, who have their own standards of conduct.
While same-sex sexual activity is not prohibited among students, they are still prohibited from sexual activity outside of marriage, cohabitation and viewing or watching pornography.
The university confirmed with KIRO 7 three board members have resigned leading up to and after the decision not to change the university’s lifestyle policy.