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An evangelical Christian university has rescinded an admissions offer to a graduate-level nursing student because of his sexual orientation, according to an official letter sent by the university.
Alex Duron, 38, had been accepted to a three-year nursing program at Union University, a private school in Jackson, Tennessee.
But nine days before classes were scheduled to begin on July 27, Union withdrew its offer of admission.
According to the letter received by Duron, the university said that as a Christian institution, it is allowed to be selective in admitting only those who will uphold the university’s religious principles, as outlined in the Bible.
Union argued that Duron had agreed to abide by said principles when he signed the university’s value statement, according to the Jackson Sun.
“As a Christ-centered educational institution, we welcome all academically-qualified students who seek the academically-rigorous and faith-informed education we offer and who are willing to uphold our community values,” the letter, a copy of which Duron posted to his Facebook page, reads.
“As part of the application process, you agreed to adhere to and uphold the values and expectations set by the University…. Your request for graduate housing and your social media profile, including your intent to live with your partner, indicates your unwillingness to abide by the commitment you made in signing this statement.”
Union is one of a number of religious schools that are covered by a religious exemption to Title IX, granted by the Obama administration in 2015, due to the school’s affiliation with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Under Title IX, typically, institutions are not allowed to receive federal funds if they actively engage in sex-based discrimination — which liberals, including many who served in the Obama administration, have argued applies to instances where someone is discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
But the exemption is intended to accommodate religiously-affiliated schools without forcing them to violate their beliefs.
“This weekend I received very bad news regarding the institution I chose for my continued education,” Duron wrote on Facebook. “It turns out that a faith-informed education from Union University is not God’s plan for me, because Union University is not ‘informed’ enough to not recognized that bigotry masked as religion is not Christian at all.
“My God taught me to love they neighbor (Leviticus 19:18) and not to judge as is told in the book of Matthew.”
He continued: “I am writing to let the public know that this is not ok…. What has happened to me is not the worst part. Did you know that this is 100% Legal? Did you know that Union University is not a fully private school and accepts federal funding? Did you know that your taxes are allowing them to discriminate against LGBTQ+ and their allies?”
Duron added: “Union University may not be right for me. I can accept that, but I cannot accept that our government is giving them the money to discriminate against me.”
According to Union University’s student handbook, students are required to refrain from “sexually impure relationships, including but not limited to “participation in or appearance of engaging in premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexual activities, or cohabitation.”
The handbook also discourages same-sex relationships, even among married partners, and encourages students who are not in heterosexual marriages but may “face all types of sexual temptation” to live “chaste, celibate lives.”
Duron admits he signed the values letter hastily after the university sent it to him, claiming he needed to sign it immediately.
But he says he was still caught off guard by the decision to rescind his acceptance, because he was never asked about his sexual orientation on any application or during his interview.
Additionally, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Duron had been planning to live on campus in a dorm with other graduate students, and his fiancé was not planning to move to Jackson with him, seemingly making their relationship irrelevant to his enrollment.
But Duron also acknowledged that a Union employee had asked him, when he was trying to arrange housing, if he was engaged or planned to be married, which would qualify him for the university’s family housing.
He did not mention his engagement, although his partner later mentioned that a private profile affiliated with the university had viewed his LinkedIn profile, reports BuzzFeed News.
The university has since issued a prepared statement defending its right to be selective in whom it admits.
“As a Christian institution, Union University has standards of behavior for its faculty, staff, and students that are consistent with biblical teaching and historic, orthodox Christian practice,” the statement reads.
“All students who apply to Union University sign a statement saying they will comply with the university’s values. Those students who fail to abide by those values — or who show no intention of attempting to do so — are subject to disciplinary measures that can include dismissal from the university.”
Duron has since told BuzzFeed News that he’s accepting what happened to him, and has been contacted by other nursing schools who are trying to find ways to grant him admission to their graduate-level programs in the fall.
“My initial plan was to warn away people in the nursing community from Union if they’re gay or transgender,” Duron said. “But it has totally changed now, people are taking it to the next level…. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but I’ve gotten so much support.”
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