Joie St. Hubert
After growing up in New York City, Joie St. Hubert thought he was ready for a change.
His choir director was an alumni of Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee and suggested that Joie take a tour of the campus. After taking the tour, Joie applied for admission and was accepted with an impressive scholarship package.
“I had absolutely no idea what was going to go down,” Joie admits. “I had no idea what they thought about the LGBTQ community or about the trauma that I would face.”
In December 2020, Joie came out as a transgender man.
“I was scared most of the time while at Lee. I was harassed and called the ‘f slur’ by students. I was scared of getting ‘hate crimed.’”
But fear didn’t stop Joie from speaking out. They became an outspoken advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ equality and sexual assault awareness, eventually amassing a sizable social media following where he posted about activism on his TikTok account.
In 2021, Lee University officials abruptly removed gender identity from the list of protected classes in the school’s student handbook.
It wasn’t longer after that Joie was punished with 40 accountability hours and told to remove two social media posts - one of him with a rainbow flag and another detailing the anti-LGBTQ climate at Lee - claiming it was an “inappropriate use of technological devices.”
When Joie told his TikTok followers that Lee punished him for posting LGBTQ content, the administration requested another meeting – telling him that he could be expelled or suspended if he did not show up.
When he did show up, he was handed a suspension letter. Joie had 24 hours to pack up his things and move off of campus. They didn’t know what to do.
“If my suspension was really for violation of internet policies, then so many other
students would be disciplined for social media content. Lee disciplined and suspended me because I am trans and proud. Lee wanted me gone and they got rid of me.”
Just months after his horrific experience at Lee, Joie joined REAP’s class-action lawsuit – alongside another Lee alum – demanding that the U.S. Department of Education stop granting religious exemptions to religious colleges like Lee that use federal taxpayer funds to discriminate against LGBTQ students.
“I feel terrified knowing that the Department of Education won’t protect me because of a religious exemption to Title IX. It makes me feel so scared that the government does not have my back. Knowing that is scary and sad. The thought of bringing anything to a judge or a government employee as a black trans person almost seems useless. I feel even less than a second-class citizen. It’s absolutely dehumanizing to be treated like this.”