Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports on how evangelical colleges are responding to the perception that their institution is not a safe place for those who possess same-sex attraction. For example, Wheaton College created “an official group in February for students to explore questions of gender identity and sexual orientation. The group is intended as a ‘safe place for students who have questions about their sexual orientation or gender identity,’ where students may self-identify as LGBTQ.” But all Wheaton College students sign an agreement promising to refrain from “the use of pornography … premarital sex, adultery, homosexual behavior and all other sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage.” Other evangelical colleges have similar pledges.
Evangelical colleges likely face generational differences in attitudes toward sexuality as younger evangelicals develop friendships with people who are gay, says David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, a Christian market research firm.
“There has been a shift from rightness to fairness,” Kinnaman said. “There’s a real sense in which their institutional loyalty and their loyalty to theoretical morals and ethical choices are trumped by their peer relationships.”
About 40% of evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29 are likely to say homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared to 24% of evangelicals who are older than 30, according to the 2007 religious landscape survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. But there is still less acceptance of homosexuality by evangelicals than by other young people. The same Pew poll found that 63% of Americans age 18 to 29 say homosexuality should be accepted by society, as do about half of Americans ages 30 to 64.
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