"I am a young trans student at Samford...there are quite a few of us"
Dear Dr. Westmoreland,
I am a young trans student at Samford. You might be surprised to hear this, as trans students are often even more closeted than gay and lesbian students at Samford, but there are quite a few of us.
I am extremely disheartened by your decision to block Samford Together. The group wasn't even presented as an advocacy group, just a group where LGBT students could discuss their lives without fear on a campus that stifles that conversation. Suicide rates among LGBT youth are very high, being especially high among trans youth. In opening up about my gender dysphoria to my peers at Samford, I have lost a lot of friends. I believe that a student body often reflects its administration. An administration is supposed to lead by example, and the current position held by Samford's administration is only further engraining many students' hatred and intolerance for people who are different from them.
I implore you to reconsider this decision. The mental health and wellbeing of LGBT young adults is just as valid and pertinent as for straight young adults. Shutting off emotions and expression of one's struggles is extremely damaging to humans, especially young people.
I can understand your hesitancy given the religious history of the university, but there is a lot of disagreement among Biblical scholars about whether the Bible actually condemns homosexuality in the original languages. I would like to ask you to research this, as it is extremely relevant in this day and age--especially for a campus of students who seek out well-reasoned Biblical interpretations. Additionally, many students come to Samford for a good education, not just because of their religious leanings or background.
By denying Samford Together, you are saying that LGBT people are an "other". That we are not on the same level as cisgender or straight students. "Separate but equal" is a call back to a dark part of American history, and it is painful to see it repeating in our current times. Groups like Young Americans for Freedom have been given university approval and are allowed to gather even though their views are not supported by a large part of the student body. Even if LGBT people offend some on campus due to antiquated beliefs, they should still be treated equally and allowed to officially gather on campus.
All I can say is that I hope this situation can be fixed. On a campus where we are already treated like second class citizens, it is extremely hurtful to see the administration share this view.
A Samford Student