Oral Roberts University
Growing up in a conservative family in Huntsville, Alabama, Rosalyn Simon didn’t have any choice when it came to which college she would attend.
Her parents made it clear that her only option was Oral Roberts University (ORU), an evangelical school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
While attending ORU, Rosalyn suffered severe depression – and regularly heard students and staff say horrible things about gay students, claiming that LGBTQ students “never should have come here in the first place.”
After graduating, Rosalyn got a job in the enrollment department at ORU, eventually working her way up to Associate Director of Enrollment. It was there that she began falling in love with Joni, who was also employed at ORU and would eventually become her wife.
Working in the enrollment department gave Rosalyn a unique insight into ORU’s mistreatment of LGBTQ students.
All students and faculty at ORU are required to sign the Honor Code, which prohibits same-sex relationships and affirmation of LGBTQ identities – a breach of which would be punishable by expulsion or firing.
Eventually, Rosalyn and Joni knew it wasn’t safe to be out while still employed at ORU, so they quit.
Their experience compelled Rosalyn and Joni to join REAP’s class-action lawsuit, demanding that the U.S Department of Education stop granting religious exemptions to religious colleges like ORU that use taxpayer funding to discriminate against and abuse queer students.
Rosalyn and Joni are now happily married, living in New York City – and hope that by sharing their story and joining this historic case, they can help ensure the next generation of queer students don’t suffer how they did at ORU.
At many religious schools, colleges, and universities, LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized students suffer discrimination, abuse, isolation, and hardship. If this describes you, you are not alone. We are in this together.
REAP fights for the safety, bodily autonomy, justice, and human rights of LGBTQIA+ and other communities marginalized at many predominantly white, taxpayer-funded religious schools and colleges. Using campus organizing, storytelling through podcasting, documentary film, and speaking and preaching on campuses throughout the country, REAP empowers students, faculty, staff and alumni at these institutions to advocate for human rights, while shining a light on the dangers and abuses of a major educational pipeline of white Christian Supremacy.