OKLAHOMA CITY (RNS) — A lesbian student who “married” her partner was recently expelled from an Oklahoma university one semester shy of her sports management degree.
Christian Minard, 22, attended Southwestern Christian University, a school affiliated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Bethany, Okla. As part of her admission requirements, she signed a lifestyle covenant that prohibits “homosexual behavior.”
Minard, belongs to an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation in Oklahoma City, but her decision to marry her partner, Kadyn Parks, put her at odds with the school’s lifestyle covenant.
The two were married in Albuquerque, N.M., on March 17. On Wednesday (July 9), a letter addressed to Minard from Brad Davis, the school’s vice president of student life, arrived at her parents’ home, telling her she was being expelled.
“I was informed that you recently married someone of the same sex and saw a few pictures from Facebook,” Davis wrote. “Of course, this is opposing to our view as an International Pentecostal Holiness denominational university as well as the Lifestyle Covenant that all students must agree and sign.”
The International Pentecostal Holiness Church is headquartered in Bethany, and the school sits adjacent to the world headquarters building. The denomination has consistently opposed homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The lifestyle covenant states that students may be required to withdraw for violating certain provisions of the covenant, including prohibitions on homosexual behavior, harassment, sexual misconduct, pornography, alcohol, tobacco and other sins.
Minard said she is aware that her relationship violates the covenant, but claims that the rules are not being applied consistently, as she believes she was singled out for being a married lesbian.
“Students violate parts of that covenant all the time, but they don’t get expelled,” she said. “I didn’t even get a hearing, just a letter to my parents.”
“There isn’t a similar program at an area university, so I’d have to change my program of study,” Minard said of the road ahead. “And, being one semester from graduation means I have taken all my electives. I’ll lose all those credits if I transfer.”
Connie Sjoberg, provost at the university, declined to comment on specifics of the situation, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, a federal law that prohibits colleges from disclosing information about students, even to parents.
Christian News Network contributed to this report.