Seattle Pacific University students, staff and faculty file complaint against Board of Trustees

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Back in July, Seattle Pacific University’s Board of Trustees again voted to uphold the school’s “Employee Lifestyle Policy.” The policy prohibits the university from hiring employees who are openly LGBTQ+. Now, a group of students, faculty and staff are filing a complaint against the six board members who made the decision.

“It’ll be a fight, a long fight and it’s not going to resolve itself overnight but I think we’re committed to it,” Chloe Guillot, a graduate student and plaintiff in the complaint, said. When the decision was upheld in July, it sparked a sit-in by students that lasted more than a month.

“When you do that so many times consistently, and you just keep getting rejected it gets to the point where you’re like, ‘What else can we do?’” Guillot said. The complaint specifically cites the fallout of the policy and alleges that the university is “financially and structurally imploding.”

“There’s been so many good faculty members and professors who have left in the last two years alone just because of this issue and that’s not even to mention the people we can’t hire because they are queer or don’t agree with SPU,” Guillot said. SPU turned down KIRO 7′s request for an interview and sent a statement instead that said, “Seattle Pacific University is aware of the lawsuit and will respond in due course.”

This isn’t the first time something like this has rocked SPU. A lawsuit was filed in 2021 by a professor who claimed he was denied a full-time tenured position because he was gay. Also, in June of 2022, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson let SPU know he was investigating possible discriminatory practices. In response, SPU filed a lawsuit against Ferguson and argued that the investigation violated the school’s right to religious freedom.

“This is not an issue of religious freedoms or trying to attack somebody’s religion. We all believe in the same God, but we are reading the Bible very differently,” Guillot said. There is a protest planned at SPU on Oct. 11 at 11 a.m. as part of a nationwide movement protesting religious exemption laws.