Liberty University students organize a #MeToo and LGBTQ+ demonstration on Liberty’s campus in response to comments made at CPAC
Between 20-30 Liberty University students organized a #MeToo and LGBTQ+ demonstration on Liberty’s campus March 6 in response to comments made by President Jerry Falwell Jr., Becki Falwell and Donald Trump Jr. at CPAC March 1.
Some Liberty students and members of the community believe these comments to be transphobic and offensive to sexual assault victims. While some protested the treatment of LGBTQ+ students on campus, others demonstrated their support for the #MeToo movement.
What started as 11 demonstrators on the outside steps of the Montview Student Union at 11 a.m. gradually increased to around 25 by 1 p.m. The crowd did not exceed 30.
Students engaged in peaceful discussions. The demonstrators did not yell or chant.
According to Liberty senior business student Caleb Fitzpatrick, who participated in the demonstration, the event was designed to raise awareness for victims of sexual abuse.
“At the end of the day, if one student sees this and feels welcome … it was all worth it,” Fitzpatrick said.
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, Greg Dowell, said Liberty works very hard to make every student, faculty, staff and for that matter, even visitors to the campus, that do not necessarily agree with the university’s mission or doctrinal statement, feel welcome.
“The offices that I oversee exist to ensure that Liberty is an inclusive and welcoming place,” Dowell said. “No external organization founded Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Liberty. It originated with our president. This is the message that needs to go out and be appreciated by all of our underrepresented groups.”
Dowell said though his door is open for students to engage in dialogue with his office about these matters, he is not aware of any such contact that has been made yet by the organizers of Wednesday’s protest — and he invites them to do so even now.
The gathering was comprised of different groups, including the LUforMeToo group, who exclusively demonstrated the importance of believing women who come forth with sexual assault allegations.
Becki Falwell’s comment about raising her granddaughter as a girl during CPAC prompted several pro LGBTQ+ students to gather.
“She’s our granddaughter, and we’re raising her as a girl,” Becki Falwell said at CPAC in front of the Liberty convocation audience. “We’re not letting her have a choice. She’s what God designed (her to be). God makes the choice of what the babies are going to be, and God decided she would be a girl.”
Following Becki Falwell’s statement, Trump Jr. referenced #MeToo while discussing guns with Falwell Jr, using it in a context separate from its origin.
Later in an interview, Becki Falwell referenced Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s announcement of raising their baby gender neutral, saying it was unhealthy for the baby.
Becki Falwell’s CPAC comment stemmed from her position that parents should raise children according to their biological gender, not force them into both gender roles early on.
“I can’t imagine how confused a child would be in that situation growing up,” Becki Falwell said. “God has made the (gender) decision when the child is born, and they are either a boy or a girl. Once the child grows up, and comes of age, they have a right to decide if they’re not comfortable in their gender.”
Becki Falwell told the Champion she reached out to one of the protestors and engaged in productive conversation about the issues.
Some student spectators had differing opinions, particularly regarding the pro LBGTQ+ signs and the bright gay pride flag stretching across several demonstrators. Some of the LGBTQ+ signs contained Bible verses.
According to junior Bethshan Serosh, who spent almost an hour conversing with different demonstrators, the LBGTQ+ lifestyle contradicted absolute truth taught in the Bible.
“I don’t support it. I don’t think I can compromise on my morals and my God,” Serosh said. “There are two things: there is one absolute truth and (there are) opinions. People mix that.”
Another student spectator, Hannah Bremmer, appreciated that students expressed their concerns.
“It’s really great seeing people stand up for what they believe in,” Bremmer said. “It makes me really happy.”
Although most demonstrators were Liberty students, some were visiting Liberty Mountain.
Among the visitors was Rev. Ashley Easter, an ordained minister through the Progressive Christian Alliance.
“I’m so thrilled to see students protesting in this way,” Easter said. “This is about creating awareness. It’s all about love.”
Sophomore Levi Link, another spectator, expressed his theological concerns with the demonstration.
“I don’t think we as Christians should be identifying solely by our gender or by our sexual preference,” Link said. “We should be identifying as children of God alone.”
The gathering ended at 3 p.m.
“I pray for all of them to understand and to know Jesus Christ as their savior,” Link said. “I hope that each and everyone one of these people seeks him and finds their true identity in Christ.”