Stephen Lovegrove, a junior at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina with a 3.8 GPA who was informed this August 5th that he had lost his federally funded work-study position a resident advisor (RA) at his school, recently spoke to MTV's Act Blog. Following Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert's performance of "Same Love" at the VMA's Lovegrove was inspired to reach out ot MTV and bring his story further forward to the public. The entire interview is available at http://act.mtv.com/posts/stephen-lovegrove-interview.
Lovegrove and his fomer classmate, April Singletary, have created a new petition asking CSU to become a safe place for all students. As stated on the petition's page, they are "petitioning CSU to add a new policy that protects students of all sexual orientations - a policy stating that as long as students follow the rules outlined in the student handbook and in their employment contracts, no student may be removed from any position due to their sexual orientation."
"We love the school and want to see it become a safe and healthy environment for all students. Obviously, none of us is in charge of the school, so we don't have the power to make any decisions. But we refuse to believe that our voices don't matter, and we wanted to do something to have an impact. Our goal is to see CSU put a policy in place that protects all of its students against discrimination. The petition is our attempt to at least get the administration to listen and hopefully change."
Lovegrove allegedley lost his position because he had recently began posting on the internet about how he identified as gay and Christian, and the administration took notice. While speaking with MTV he explained:
"Over the summer, I knew the time was right for me to share my story with the world. I posted a series of videos talking about my story and explaining what it was like growing up as a gay Christian in the conservative South. The next week, my boss called me in and told me that I had been fired from my job as an RA and banned from being on stage publicly at my school and from leadership in campus ministries."
Because federal law does not yet prohibit discrimination by employers based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression CSU was able to freely discriminate against Lovegrove. If you'd like to see these types of policies become a thing of the past, you can help by taking action to promote the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) at http://www.glaad.org/ENDA. ENDA would make it illegal to refuse to hire or promote, fire, or harass an employee based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
When asked for his best advice for people to stand up for LGBTQ rights in the workplace and at school Lovegrove states:
"It really is as simple as the choice to love all people. This isn't complicated. Just treat people equally, regardless of their sexual orientation. I believe God doesn't limit His love based on gender, sexual orientation, race, or any other criteria, and neither should we. When you make the choice to love everyone, you hold those around you to a higher standard as well. If someone in your life is not loving all people, be willing to confront them about it, and explain to them lovingly why equality matters to you."
Stephen's story matches the story of other LGBT students at conservative Christian schools like Point Loma Nazarene University, and Biola University. GLAAD will continue to amplify his story, as well as others who face discrimination at their school.