WENHAM — A mantle of evangelical Christian ideology has shrouded the gay and lesbian students at Gordon College for years, leading many of them to say they feel isolated, some even scorned.
Senior Tania Green has spent most of the past school year trying to piece together a welcome mat, but so far, she's been stymied, not by the dean, the chaplain or even dogma, but by her fellow students.
The Gordon College Student Association last week turned down a request to form a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning support club on campus, by a 7-6 vote. The student association must vote on forming any campus club.
"I have gay and lesbian friends on campus," Green said. "I'm doing this for them."
The president of the student association, Prashan De Bisser, said those who rejected the proposal agree there's a need for such a group but weren't convinced it needed to be established under the auspices of student government.
One association member was absent, and if that vote had resulted in a deadlock, De Bisser said he isn't certain how he would have cast the tie-breaking vote.
Green, who's heterosexual, agrees some students just don't think the club is a matter for student government, but said there were other issues.
One opponent even compared homosexuality to a disease, alcoholism.
"He said, 'What if students wanted to start a club to talk about their love of alcohol?'" Green said. "It's a ridiculous comparison."
While the goal of the group would have been to support people with alternative lifestyles, within the context of evangelism, that has its limitations.
Green named the club Spectrum, an allusion to the range of sexual orientations. Faculty adviser Paul Borgman said the club would have been in no way an advocate for homosexual activity. Rather, the intention was to give "those isolated from the greater community somewhere to go and tell their stories."