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Lauren Hoekstra

(she/they)

Dordt University

Lauren Hoekstra lives in Sioux City, IA, where they attend Dordt University and expect to graduate in late 2021 or May 2022. She studies secondary English education, with a minor in sociology. She identifies as queer. “God created me this way, and I am not a mistake,” she said.

Dordt University’s student handbook includes anti-LGBTQ+ language and policies, but Lauren was not aware of them until her first semester, and since then she has 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. She tells some professors and friends about her 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.”

She is raising her voice to protect all LGBTQ+ students at Dordt University and religiously affiliated colleges across the country.