Baylor course title sparks controversy - Word&Way

Baylor course title sparks controversy

WACO, Texas (ABP) – Baylor University officials say a blogosphere storm over a course listing of “Homosexuality as a Gateway Drug” was blown out of proportion.

Several websites and news blogs posted screen snapshots of an online listing for a Spring 2012 independent study course reportedly intended to analyze the conservative view of homosexuality as a sociology topic.

“This is an independent study course for one undergrad who brought forward the idea to a faculty member,” Baylor director of media communications Lori Fogleman told the Baylor Lariat. “It’s not a course that is open to students.”

The Lariat story said the course title was meant to be ironic. Fogleman said after another student complained that it was offensive, the listing was changed to "Special Topics in Sociology.” By that time the original title had gone viral, however, giving unwanted publicity to a Baptist school that in the past was included on the Princeton Review’s list of most “LGBT unfriendly” schools.

Fueling the reaction was another Lariat report from March, when Baylor declined to recognize a Sexual Identity Forum to promote discussion of homosexuality and other sexual preferences. According to the story, Baylor’s Student Activities Charter Council ruled the organization’s intent “was not consistent with university policy.”

A Baylor official told the student newspaper the university was sympathetic to concerns students in the group expressed, like hate speech against openly gay students, but they must be held to the same standards as other student groups.

According to policy, Baylor grants charters to student organizations that “contribute positively to the campus, adhere to expectations for the entire Baylor community, and abide by all university policies governing both individual students and student organizations.”

Chartered groups receive benefits such as the ability to reserve campus space, advertise activities on campus and apply for funding.

Baylor’s sexual misconduct policy forbids “sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication and homosexual acts.”


Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.