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Gay Student Says Baptist School Denied Readmission

Alan Scher Zagier / Associated Press
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(Credit: Thinkstock)

(Credit: Thinkstock)

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (AP) -  An honors-caliber college student who recently disclosed publicly that he’s gay said he was denied readmission to a northern Missouri Baptist school because of that declaration.

Chase Martinson, 20, of Jefferson County in suburban St. Louis, spent his first two years at Hannibal-LaGrange University, which has about 1,200 students. He temporarily withdrew in October due to illness but hoped to return this fall.

School documents show that in January he was initially accepted to return and then offered a spot in the private college’s honors program in early March before recently receiving another letter saying his application was inactive. That letter alludes to a school morals clause that forbids homosexuality as a “misuse of God’s gift.” The student conduct code also forbids incest, adultery and fornication.

Martinson said he was told by the school’s admissions director that “it was brought to his attention that I was outside the moral guidelines of the school.” Martinson, a nursing major and member of the dean’s list who was recruited to the Hannibal campus as a men’s volleyball player, came out on Facebook in December.

“I know one student who became pregnant on campus and all they had to do was recommit their life to the Lord and they were able to continue their education,” he said in an interview Thursday. “It’s ridiculous. If they’re so firm upon their Christian views as biblically founded, they should be more accepting of everyone.”

Martinson, who grew up in a Baptist household but doesn’t identify with the denomination, said he now plans to attend the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the fall semester rather than pursue the two options presented by his former school: appeal the decision directly to its president or write a statement renouncing his homosexuality.

Hannibal-LaGrange officials did not respond to several telephone and email messages seeking comment. A university lawyer said federal education privacy laws forbid a public response.

Legal experts say the school’s private status and religious affiliation allow for such exclusions.

“There’s no federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity,” said Marcia McCormick, a constitutional law professor at Saint Louis University.

Students at other Christian colleges have reported being kicked out of school due to their sexual orientation, or similar concerns. A former student at Bob Jones University in Virginia has said he was suspended for watching the television show  Glee, which includes gay and transgender characters, at an off-campus coffee shop.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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