Lauren Hoekstra lives in Sioux City, IA, where they attend Dordt University and expect to graduate in late 2021 or May 2022. They study secondary English education, with a minor in sociology. They identify as queer. “God created me this way, and I am not a mistake,” they said.
Dordt University’s student handbook includes anti-LGBTQ+ language and policies, but Lauren was not aware of them until their first semester, and since then they have felt a pervasively homophobic climate on campus. The student handbook states that individuals who participate in forbidden conduct, including being engaged or married to someone of the same sex, being transgender, or romantic LGBTQ+ relationships, “shall be dismissed from the university.” Professors frequently teach that people who “practice homosexuality” will “burn in hell.”
Lauren came out in June 2020. They tell some professors and friends about their LGBTQ+ identity, but it is challenging: “I feel a great amount of anxiety relating to my coming out,” they said. “I am afraid of having professors treat me differently or losing friends. I suffer some depression at school stemming from feeling different from everyone on campus.”
They are raising their voice to protect all LGBTQ+ students at Dordt University and religiously affiliated colleges across the country.