March 4th, 2010
Contact: Jennifer Luu, Soulforce Q
410 493 3539
EQUALITY RIDE TO VISIT VALLEY FORGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE
Young Adults Tour Christian Colleges to Advocate Safety and Inclusion for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Students
What: On March 4th and 5th, the Soulforce Q Equality Ride, a youth-organized bus tour visiting faith-based colleges with policies discriminating against lesbian, gay, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students, will bring a message of inclusion and safety to Valley Forge Christian College (VFCC). The stop at Valley Forge marks the launch of the 2010 Equality Ride. The Riders will be traveling for two months to 16 schools across the country, bringing an affirming message for LGBTQ people. Despite numerous attempts by the Soulforce Q Equality Ride to be allowed on campus to visit and engage in nonviolent dialogue, Valley Forge Christian College officials have told Riders they are not welcome and denied them entry. However, the message of inclusion that the Equality Ride brings is so necessary that Riders will still be visiting Valley Forge in hopes of engaging with the campus and with the Phoenixville community at large. The Equality Ride seeks to provide safe educational settings for all students, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. On March 4th, Riders and residents of Phoenixville will hold a candlelight vigil to illuminate the injustice of VFCC’s discriminatory policies and replace it with light and hope. The following day, March 5th, Riders will again gather with the Phoenixville, PA community at the Valley Forge campus to attempt dialogue and amplify the voices of the LGBTQ students who have been asked to remain silent at Valley Forge Christian College.
Why: More than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have explicit policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students. At Valley Forge Christian College the student handbook states, “Members of the College community are required to refrain from all forms of sexual immorality including but not limited to, any form of pornography, promiscuity, homosexuality…adultery, rape, sexual violence and abuse…” Policies like the one at Valley Forge can create a climate that makes LGBTQ students feel unsafe and can foster an environment of hostility and silence.
When: Thursday, March 4th 2010 8:00 PM, Candlelight vigil begins
Friday, March 5th, 2010 10:00 AM, Community gathering
Where: Charlestown Park (on the outskirts of Valley Forge Christian College)
Who: The 18 to 29-year-old Equality Riders are members of Soulforce Q, the young adult division of Soulforce, a national social justice organization. Since 2006, the Equality Ride has visited over 50 schools, hosting public forums, participating in panel discussions, and taking part in worship services and Bible studies. The goal is to inspire further conversation and to empower students, faculty, and administrators to make their school welcoming to all students. The organizers of the Equality Ride use a collaborative approach, writing to college administrators months in advance and inviting them to work together to design programming that examines diverse points of view—including points of view that affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students.
Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, go to http://www.equalityride.com/.
In other news, there was an open mic in Phoenixville tonight and we wanted to go, be all up in the community and maybe get a Rider to perform something on the queer side to further our cause and core. I was elected to tell a story and told the one I put together for Sucker For Love. At first, I was utterly baffled by the way different parts of my life intersect, but then it didn't take me long to arrive at "Of Course." Of course I'm spreading my story to an unfamiliar town by way of The Equality Ride. Because "when you really want something, the universe always conspires in your favor." I believe you, Paulo.