North Park University might be the only evangelical college in the country with a school-sanctioned student group that includes the word “queer” in its name. Like many other evangelical schools, North Park has had unofficial clubs or informal meetings of students to talk about issues of sexuality, but two years ago a proposal was accepted by the student senate to make “Queers and Allies,” or Q&A, an official student club. The core leadership team is small, but events often attract between 35 and 75 students to hear various perspectives and discuss topics ranging from interpretations of scripture to “queer history” and understandings of gay identity.
There has been no public opposition to the club’s existence, says Rick Sindt, one of the group’s student founders and leaders. “The overall atmosphere is ambiguous,” Sindt says. “There are institutional policies in place that hinder faculty from being out or even vocal.” But still, he says, encouragement both on campus and from alumni has been “abundant.”
North Park upholds the teachings of its sponsoring denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, which prohibits the ordination of openly gay clergy and does not allow for its pastors to perform same-sex weddings, unions, or blessings. Still, Sindt, who is gay, is actively involved in campus ministries and the spiritual life of the college. He recently gave his testimony at a chapel service and traveled to India for a service and mission trip. While it has been hard for him to find a church home, he remains dedicated to his faith.