affirming alum collective
AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

we've got you covered

Welcome to the Affirming Alum Collective. All are welcome here. We are a group of Lee University graduates who identify as LGBTQIA+ and straight allies.

The Lee University Community Covenant condemns “homosexual behavior.” In practical terms, this means LGBTQIA+ students risk their emotional, mental, and physical safety, not to mention their academic standing or scholarships, if they come out - or even profess affirming theology or support for LGBTQ issues. Queer students at Lee University are silenced and forced to hide in the shadows.

As alums, we are not accountable to the university. As queer people, we know the freedom of living as our authentic selves as well as the damage of homophobic policies wrapped in religious language. There is power in visibility and strength in numbers. Where Lee students are restricted, we are not. The Affirming Alum Collective was created to publicly and openly support current Lee students who identify as LGBTQIA+ and their straight allies.

In short, we’ve got you covered with a bright rainbow umbrella.

In March 2021, Lee University and President Mark Walker released a statement and then hosted a special chapel service to clarify the university’s policies on “Biblical marriage” and “homosexual behavior” that was extremely damaging to LGBTQIA+ students. Read our response and sign the petition here.

The Affirming Alum Collective is not a crisis resource, and we do not maintain 24/7 access to our social media messaging or email accounts. You are responsible for your own safety and wellbeing. If you are in crisis or feel you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. There are also LGBTQIA+ focused hotlines and local therapists listed on our resource page


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ABOUT THE COLLECTIVE

The purpose of the Affirming Alum Collective is to connect current Lee students with alums who are LGBTQIA+ or straight allies. For too long, Lee University has used its conservative theology and rigid policies to silence queer students. The stigma felt as a student often lingers past graduation so that even alum no longer closely affiliated to the school feel pressure to meet and connect in secret. The Affirming Alum Collective is ending that stigma. We are the public face of queer students at Lee University - past, present, and future.

We want to support, encourage, and reassure LGBTQIA+ students that they do not need to repent for who they are. Breaking the Community Covenant is not a sin, and neither is being queer. This group is brand new, and we are brimming with ideas for the future. For now, our goal is to be a landing page for current students who need a one-stop shop for pro-LGBTQIA+ resources: books, films, websites, therapists, pastors, theologians, legal representation, plus alums and our stories.

diversity statement

Just like the Lee University student body, the Affirming Alum Collective represents a diverse group. Most of us are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, while others are straight allies. Some of us still identify as Christians, while many no longer claim religious affiliation. We use many labels and terms to identify ourselves and to refer to the LGBTQIA+ community. We strive for inclusivity in our language and actions while recognizing that an identifying label that celebrates one person may be uncomfortable for another. Queer people exist in all types of bodies, and we affirm that disability rights are foundational to equality rights. We also recognize that BIPOC who identify as queer experience multiple layers of stigma that white queer people do not. We acknowledge that white allies must be active participants in dismantling white supremacy. We cannot support LGBTQIA+ students without acknowledging that Black Lives Matter. We ask for grace, flexibility, and accountability in this endeavor to support all Lee students who belong to a gender and/or sexual minority.

Lee University was built on land that belongs to the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East).


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petition

Take Action: Alumni & supporters, our voices have power! Sign and share the petition to show LGBTQ+ students at Lee what widespread support they have—and send the message to President Walker and Lee University that student safety and dignity must be Lee's number one priority.

Dear Lee University Students, Administration, and Board of Directors:

The below statement is from the Affirming Alum Collective, a collaboration of Lee University alumni. Most of us are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, while others are straight allies. Some of us still identify as Christians, while many no longer claim religious affiliation.

Lee University recently clarified its stance on Biblical marriage and the need for repentance. During a livestreamed chapel service on March 11, President Mark Walker reiterated the beliefs of the Church of God and Lee University as outlined in the Community Covenant: that “homosexual behavior” is prohibited by Scripture.

President Walker declared the chapel service a Family Meeting “to work out differences.” However, the statements made during this service were and are harmful to queer students: their mental and emotional health; their physical safety; their relationship with the college, the church, and their peers; and their academic success. Lee University has a duty to care for students’ safety and wellbeing, and so we ask that the administration consider the reality of being an LGBTQIA+ student:

11-22% of students on Christian campuses identify as non-heterosexual (as reported in Inside Higher Ed, 2021)
One in six adults in Generation Z identify as LGBT (Gallup, 2021)
59% of LGBTQ+ people identified themselves as spiritual and followers of a faith; 48% of those identified as Christian (Pew Research Center, 2015)
8.3% of LGBTQ youth between 19-24 reported attempting suicide in the last year (Trevor Project, 2021)

The Family Meeting continues, this time with the inclusion of our voices. To current LGBTQIA+ students at Lee University: you do not need to repent for who you are. You were created to reflect the Divine Image of God, and the Holy Spirit invites you to live joyfully as your full self. You belong at Lee University, in the church, and at the communion table, just as you are. You already fully embody the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

Jesus declares that to inherit eternal life, you must love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. As yourself - which includes your sexual orientation. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. Not Lee University and its administration, not the Church of God, and certainly not who you love and who you are.

The pain that exists in this moment will not last forever. There is life after Lee, and our lives as queer alums are evidence that it gets better. After graduation, your path may lead you away from organized religion altogether, or toward affirming religious communities, or somewhere in the vast in-between. Wherever you go, know that we go with you. We’ve got you covered.

For more information on affirming theology and denominations, mental health resources, and to connect with the Affirming Alum Collective, please visit: www.affirmingalum.com.

Sources:
“Estimate of How Often LGBTQ Youth Attempt Suicide in the U.S.” The Trevor Project. 11 March 2021.
Jones, Jeffrey M. “LGBT Identification Rise to 5.6% in Latest U.S. Estimate.” Gallup. 24 February 2021.
Murphy, Caryle. “Lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans differ from general public in their religious affiliations.” Pew Research Center. 26 May 2015.
Redden, Elizabeth. “Being LGBTQ+ on a Christian Campus.” Inside Higher Ed. 15 March 2021.

To show your support of this statement and LGBTQIA+ students at Lee University, please sign this petition. You can also show your support by printing the letter and mailing it to President Walker and Alumni Relations at Lee University.

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

For a printable version of this letter, click here! Print, sign, and mail your letter to:

President Mark Walker
Lee University
Office of the President, Vest 205
1120 N Ocoee Street
Cleveland, TN 37411

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PRESS

  • WDEF.Com "Lee University on LGBTQ+ and the church" | 3/18/21

Contact

The Affirming Alum Collective is not a crisis resource, and we do not maintain 24/7 access to our social media messaging or email accounts. You are responsible for your own safety and wellbeing. If you are in crisis or feel you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. There are also LGBTQIA+ focused hotlines and local therapists listed on our resource page

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©Copyright Affirming alum collective, 2021, all rights reserved

affirming alum collective
AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

RESOURCES

The Affirming Alum Collective is not a crisis resource, and we do not maintain 24/7 access to our social media messaging or email accounts. You are responsible for your own safety and wellbeing. If you are in crisis or feel you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. There are also LGBTQIA+ focused hotlines and local therapists listed on our resource page.


local lgbtqia+ support initiatives


Change.org petition

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Organized by students who were affected by the anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric at Lee University, this petition demands that the administration remove discriminatory policies from the community covenant, create a hotline and resource center for LGBTQIA+ students on campus, and offer diversity and inclusion training for faculty and staff. While we support this action, it is separate from our response letter to Lee University. We invite you to sign both.

Sign the petition here


Local Therapists/Personal Growth Providers


Anthony Vernon, MA

Anthony Vernon, MA
423-521-5678 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Blake Feagans, LPC, NCC
423-834-7175 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Charity Muse, LPC, BCC
706-403-6148| Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Chas Barnes, LPC, NCC, LPC, NCC
423-328-8783 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Courtney Edwards, LPC
423-265-7935 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Crystal Hammer Sindler, LMFT
423-298-3250 | Website

Emmy Hovarter, MA NCC

Emmy Hovater, MA, NCC
423-521-5678 | Website

Hannah Holtcamp, MA

Hannah Holtcamp, MA
423-521-5678 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Jas Milam, ATR/BC
423-322-2514 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Jane Neall, LPC
423-756-2894 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Julie Tilley, LMFT
423-910-9112 | Website

Karen Chambless

Karen Chambless, PLP, MA, NCC
423-521-5678 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Julie Brown, LPC, NCC
423-894-3234 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Julie Fickley, MA
423-682-8402 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Juliet Thomas, LPC
423-682-8402 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Keshma Odeny, MA
423-682-8402 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Dr. Kim Eckert
423-682-8402 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Natalie Battles, LCSW
423-682-8402 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Aubrey Perin, LPC-MHSP
423-281-6120 | Website

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Dr. Rick Pimental-Habib, PhD, CCH
423-326-7099 | Website

These therapists have been recommended to us but have not been formally vetted by AAC.


Local Affirming Congregations & Clergy



LGBTQIA Support Lines


AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Text, Instant Messaging also available. More info on their website below.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Website and phone number below.

LGBT National Youth Hotline

Free and Confidential peer support for the LGBTQ and questioning community ages 25 and younger.

Mondays to Fridays from 1 pm – 9 pm PST
Saturday from 9 am – 2 pm PST

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Website and phone number below.

Monday thru Friday from 1PM to 9PM PST
Saturday from 9am to 2pm PST

LGBT National Hotline

The LGBT National Hotline is for all ages.

"We provide a safe space that is anonymous and confidential where callers can speak on many different issues and concerns including, but limited to, coming out issues, gender and/or sexuality identities, relationship concerns, bullying, workplace issues, HIV/AIDS anxiety, safer sex information, suicide, and much more. "

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Website and phone number below.

True Colors United

True Colors focuses on supporting homeless youth. They have a hotline but you can also reach out to them for other resources.

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Website and phone number below.

Pride Institute LGBTQ Dependency

Substance Dependency Organization - Pride Institute offers inclusive and accepting recovery programs for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Website and phone number below.

Trans Lifeline

"Trans Lifeline provides trans peer support for our community that’s been divested from police since day one. We’re run by and for trans people."


General Support Lines


AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Website and phone number below.

Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line is the free, 24/7, confidential text message service for people in crisis.

Text HOME to 741741 in the United States

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Website and phone number below.

Teen Line

If you have a problem or just want to talk with another teen who understands, then this is the right place for you!

Text "TEEN" to 839863 between 6:00pm-9:00pm PST to speak with one of our teens

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Website and phone number below.

Community Helpline

Community Helpline has been taking crisis calls since 1971, helping callers work through feelings that range from loneliness & depression, to suicide. Our goal is to provide hope and compassion to the caller. As a confidential crisis and referral hotline, we have served the local South Bay community and have grown to serve the entire state of California.

AFFIRMING ALUM COLLECTIVE

Website and phone number below.

Wellspace Health Crisis/Suicide Prevention

Texting and Instant Chat Messaging available


LGBTQIA+ Christian Based Spiritual Resources


Online Resources:

Affirming Christian Denominations :

Affirming bodies by affiliation:

Books:

  • God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines

  • Walking the Bridgeless Canyon by Kathy Baldock

  • Unclobber: Rethinking our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality by Colby Martin

  • Space at the Table by Brad & Drew Harper

  • Transforming by Austen Hartke

  • Mom I’m Gay by Susan Cottrell

  • The Cross in the Closet by Timothy Kurek

  • Outside the Lines: How Embracing Queerness Will Transform Your Faith by Mihee Kim-Kort

Film:

  • Equality U

  • Fish Out of Water

  • For the Bible Tells Me So

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©Copyright Affirming alum collective, 2021, all rights reserved