Equality Ride visits Houghton College

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: March 10, 2010
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Luu, Equality Ride Media Director
Cell: 410 493 3539 jennifer_luu@equalityride.com
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(Houghton, NY) — Yesterday, the 2010 Soulforce Q Equality Ride visited Houghton College, bringing a message of hope and affirmation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. The second stop on the traveling forum’s sixteen college tour, Houghton College administration has been working with Equality Ride leadership for months on a day of learning, growth, and productive dialogue.

The Equality Ride is a national bus tour to faith-based colleges. The 18 to 29-year-old Equality Riders advocate safe educational settings for all students, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.

On Tuesday, March 9th, the Soulforce Q Equality Riders arrived at Houghton College for a full day of rigidly scheduled events. Equality Riders joined with assigned “Houghton hosts” chosen from the faculty, staff and student body of the college for a campus tour, individual and group discussion, and communal meals.

“There were certainly some concerns and difficult compromises during the planning process. Yet despite disagreements between the institutional perspective of Houghton and that of the Equality Ride, I think today was a time of growth and fruitful discussion," said Equality Rider and former Houghton student, Andrew Langdon. “Many students expressed their desire to be an ally to the LGBTQ community or their need for safe spaces and an affirming message.”

Houghton also hosted a formal panel about how the Christian community should respond to issues of sexuality and gender. Participants included Houghton Professor Rich Eckley, Kathleen J. Elliott of the local Agape Counseling Associates, Inc, and Emily Zahn, Equality Rider and West Virginia Wesleyan junior. The forum was moderated by Dr. Michael Lastoria and was very well attended by hundreds of members of the student body, as well as some members of the community.

“I think it was a really wonderful time to share my perspective as a Christian lesbian with the Houghton community who may not feel that homosexuality and Christianity can be compatible. All the panelists were able to find common ground and come to an understanding that the two are not mutually exclusive and that the Christian church needs to be responding in a more loving and responsible way to its LGBTQ members,” explains Emily Zahn, the Equality Ride panelist. The Equality Ride bus is on the road through April 24, 2010, bringing dialogue, hope, and change to schools across the country. Future stops include:

March 12 Affirming community visit Knoxville, TN
March 15 Oakwood University Huntsville, AL
March 17 Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Wake Forest, NC
March 18 Campbell University Buies Creek, NC

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Soulforce Q is the young adult division of Soulforce, a social justice organization that works to end political and religious oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, go to www.equalityride.com.