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Following HCFA Controversy, BGLTQ Office To Create Religious Support Group

Director of BGLTQ Student Life Sheehan D. Scarborough '07.
Director of BGLTQ Student Life Sheehan D. Scarborough '07. By Cynthia Guo
By Caroline S. Engelmayer and Michael E. Xie, Crimson Staff Writers

The College’s Office of BGLTQ Student Life will create a new group to “respond to the religious needs of students of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations,” Director of BGLTQ Student Life Sheehan D. Scarborough ’07 wrote in an email sent to a Harvard BGLTQ list Saturday.

Scarborough tied the decision to create the new program to his office’s ongoing efforts to bring greater attention to “inclusive religious spaces,” according to the email.

“While Christianity has received much attention over the past semester, we know that questions about acceptance, community, and connection are alive for people of many religious traditions right now,” Scarborough wrote. “There are many ways, and many communities, in which to be queer and religious.”

Scarborough’s announcement comes a few months after the Office of Student Life announced it was placing Harvard College Faith and Action—the College’s largest Christian fellowship—on administrative probation for a year. The Crimson reported in Feb. 2018 that the move to place HFCA on probation was almost certainly tied to the organization’s decision to ask a woman in a same-sex relationship to step down from a leadership position last semester.

But the one-year probation will have little immediate practical effect on HCFA. The group has continued to use Yenching Auditorium—a Harvard-owned space—for its weekly worship event, Doxa. The Office of Student Life website asserts groups on “probation” for failing to complete their annual registration requirements are denied access to Harvard spaces.

Some College students launched an email campaign in early March calling on the OSL to impose more stringent punishments on HCFA.

Scarborough, in his email announcing the new group, specifically referenced past conversations with students about HCFA’s alleged discrimination and the College’s response.

“Many of you have expressed frustration at the lack of new information, and disappointment with explanations that have been slow, insufficient, or nonexistent,” Scarborough wrote. “These conversations have been painful for me as well, as a gay Christian with deep faith connections. And that pain is still alive in our community.”

Scarborough declined to give any specifics about the new group in an email sent to The Crimson Monday.

“At this time, it's far too early for me to answer your questions,” Scarborough wrote. “I plan to be in touch with students at a later date when there is more to share.”

—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.

—Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.

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