In a step toward further acknowledgment of the LGBTQ+ student population, Lipscomb has hired an official liaison to improve relations with that community.
Dannie Woods, an alumna of Lipscomb, joined the Student Life office in November 2017 to “be a bridge-builder between Student Life and our LGBT student community,” she told Lumination Network. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Lipscomb and a master’s degree in higher education at Abilene Christian University.
“How do we serve, how do we support, how do we love them?” Woods asked. “How do we make sure they’re getting the most out of their college experience?
“The biggest thing I’m trying to say is that I see you, and I want to hear you, and I want to get to know you,” Woods said.
“This seems so small, but it’s so huge,” Sarah Rodden, a senior English major who identifies as queer, said about the hiring of Woods.
“I definitely feel like for LGBT students, her presence on campus helps,” James Oliver, sophomore fashion design major, said. “Having someone lets us know that at least we aren’t ignored.”
Rodden and Oliver said that hiring Woods is just one step of many Lipscomb should take to continue to acknowledge their community.
“Without an official group for LGBT students to gather and organize in, we’re always going to be feeling voiceless,” Oliver said.
As recently as the 2013-14 school year, “homosexual behavior” was specifically outlawed in the student handbook under the Sexual Morality policy (see image).
In the 2014-15 handbook and on, the clause specifically mentioning “homosexual behavior” is not present. The 2018-19 student handbook policy on all sexual activity states, in full:
“All students should practice the Biblical standards of sexual morality. Sexual immorality of any kind is prohibited.
“Spending the night with a member(s) of the opposite sex and/or being in any state of undress with members of the opposite sex, even if acts of sexual immorality have not occurred, may be actionable offenses.”
“Treating any student as an image-bearer of the King is within our student handbook policy, and that’s what I’m trying to do is treat everyone with grace, dignity and respect,” Woods said in response to an inquiry about the policy.
In addition to her role with the LGBTQ community, Woods will chair the Behavioral Intervention and Care Team and lead New Student Orientation with Keela Smith.
Lumination Network reached out twice to Lipscomb, but a spokesperson declined to comment.
File photo courtesy of Becca Risley