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Six credits shy of graduating, gay man says university dismissed him for his sexuality

Gary Campbell says he wasn’t allowed to return to Clarks Summit University to take the six credits he needs to graduate because he is now openly gay. The Christian school bars same-sex relationships in its handbook.
Gary Campbell says he wasn’t allowed to return to Clarks Summit University to take the six credits he needs to graduate because he is now openly gay. The Christian school bars same-sex relationships in its handbook. WBRE/WYOU Video screengrab

When Gary Campbell attended the Baptist Bible College in 2001, he says he hoped the experience at the Pennsylvania school could make him heterosexual.

“Long story short, it didn’t work out that way,” he said, according to The Citizen’s Voice.

Campbell dropped out of the private Christian university in 2003, eventually joining the Navy and struggling with alcoholism, according to The Citizen’s Voice.

Now, the 35-year-old says the school — today called Clarks Summit University — just refused to let him take classes this fall because of his sexuality, according to PA Homepage, a TV news website. Campbell said he decided to re-enroll this fall to finally get his bachelor’s degree, which he was just six credits away from obtaining.

“The Dean of Men called me this week to inform me that because I am a homosexual I am no longer eligible to be a student,” he wrote in an August 31 Facebook status. “I wrote an appeal letter to the administration and just received word today that I am ‘dismissed as a student.’”

“I am done playing nice and I am done being respectful to a school that I have always given the benefit of the doubt to,” he continued, “but for some reason I cannot get the same favor in return.”

The university’s handbook lays out the rules that students are expected to follow. It specifically bars students from being in “same-sex romantic or sexual relationships” — and says that all those on campus “must strive for moral and sexual purity in body and mind.”

In a statement to PA Homepage about Campbell’s case, the university wrote “we adhere to biblical truths and expect them to do the same.”

When asked about the situation, the university also wrote in a statement that it “clearly affirms biblical sexuality,” according to The Citizen’s Voice. Campbell told the newspaper that he was rejected even though he told Theodore Boykin, associate dean of students, in an email that he wanted to graduate as a part of his recovery from alcoholism.

“Having a degree is much more to me than a certificate, it’s a culmination of hard work, sweat and tears, and I owe it to myself and to my recovery to accomplish this goal,” he wrote, according to The Citizen’s Voice. “I ask that you not view me only as a homosexual, but as a determined, compassionate, hard-working man who is of good moral character.”

That appeal was rejected, Campbell told PA Homepage, and now he’s left looking at other options to get his bachelor’s degree, including Lackawanna College in Scranton after the school’s president offered to help out.

Still, he says, the rejection hurt.

“I always spoke highly of the school,” he told the outlet. “I thought it was a great school with a great staff and for them to do this to me, it just felt like a slap in the face.”

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