So, uh, let’s talk about the Sexual Integrity Policy

Question Marks by Olya Kobruseva
(Photo sourced from: Pexels)
Question Marks by Olya Kobruseva (Photo sourced from: Pexels)

So, Southern changed its sexual integrity policy. Now it’s updated. And there we go; the story ends there. This isn’t newsworthy. It’s just an update on a policy that has existed forever, and some students will still either hate it, love it or not even care.

 But wait, there are two things that are different now. The first is a new pregnancy policy “to clarify that Southern is a safe place and is willing to support pregnant students in any way possible,” according to Vice President of Student Development Dennis Negrón, as reported in a previous Southern Accent article. This is a good addition to the policy, as it provides pregnant students the assurance that they will not be condemned for their respective situations and that they will be taken care of. The second change, however, specifically addresses LGBTQ+ and transgender students, and it raises some concerns, at least from my perspective.

Let’s discuss the purpose of the Sexual Integrity Policy: 

As the name suggests, the policy seeks to deter students from engaging in sexual behavior outside of marriage. According to the Student Handbook, “Southern expects all students to strive to live in harmony with biblical standards of sexuality as held by the Seventh-day Adventist church, which maintains that sexual relations should only be expressed in a heterosexual marriage. Therefore, Southern does not condone any non-marital sexual intercourse or sexual intimacy (acknowledging that not all intimacy is sexual in nature), pornography usage, or inappropriate sexual contact.”

 Wanting to adhere to a traditional and orthodox biblical interpretation regarding sex outside of marriage  — which in this case, is abstinence — the school wishes to place a boundary to prevent students from engaging in behavior that would compromise their “sexual integrity.”

While this aspect of the policy may be controversial to some people, Southern is a traditional, Adventist institution. This is nothing new; it is what the school has always stood for. So, one would expect that in order to preserve the original and stated purpose of the policy, the changes made would continue to preserve the idea of encouraging sexual integrity: abstinence. 

The additional mention of LGBTQ+ students in the Sexual Integrity Policy should have simply included a paragraph stating that regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, these rules must be followed. Abstinence from sex and sexually indicative behaviors should apply equally to all students, and as such, sexual behaviors between students of the same gender or transgender students would be discouraged. 

That’s it; that’s all that needed to be added to the policy. While many might have disagreed with the addition, it would have been a change consistent with the original intent and stated purpose of the policy. 

But that’s not what was added. What has been added is an entire section regarding the LGBTQ+ community at Southern. According to the updated policy, published in the Student Handbook, accommodations such as housing, restrooms, locker rooms and participation in intramural sports are based on a person’s biological sex. 

In the transgender guidelines on Southern’s website, it is also added that wearing clothes that do not correspond to an individual’s biological sex is also incompatible with Southern’s principles and that, “Student leadership is reserved for those that are committed to respecting the teachings of the church on the congruence between biological sex and gender and abiding by Southern’s policies.” 

While the policy states, “The mental and spiritual health of our transgender students is important to us, and counseling and other resources are available from the Student Support Services and the Office of Ministry and Missions,” isn’t remaining opposed to lifestyle freedom for transgender individuals counterintuitive to that statement? It certainly doesn’t help their mental health if the school has a policy focused on controlling how transgender individuals should live their lives.Dear reader, this is my opinion, and I now extend an invitation to you. If you would like to provide feedback — whether you agree or disagree with the sexual integrity policy —  please feel free to message the Southern Accent Instagram account. Your opinion matters dearly to me and to this campus.

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