An employee at Azusa Pacific, one of California's largest Christian universities, has filed a lawsuit against the school and is joining with homosexual activists in demanding the university adopt more tolerant policies regarding students and employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).
Fifty-two-year-old Mahesh Pradhan has been employed at Azusa Pacific as a cook for the past 10 years, and over that time was supposedly on the receiving end of physical and verbal abuse by employees “who perceived him as gay and labeled him a 'troublemaker' for speaking out against harassment of others,” reported the local newspaper, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
“I told them that I am not gay, but what’s wrong with being gay or being straight?” the Tribune quoted Pradhan as saying. Pradhan is now suing the school, the paper reported, “for retaliation, wrongful demotion and, among other things, infliction of emotional distress, and to call for more inclusiveness and acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning or queer community.”
Through his attorney, Pradhan, who has been on medical leave since 2015, claimed that during his employment at Azusa Pacific he was referred to as a “faggot,” slapped on his buttocks by his supervisor with a large wooden paddle, locked in a freezer, and cornered in a restroom. Pradhan claimed he was demoted from his job as a supervisor after he complained about the alleged abuse.
The university has denied all the allegations, with spokeswoman Rachel White saying, “We value and respect our employees and we do not condone harassment. It’s completely against who we are as a university community.”
While it is questionable how far Pradhan will get with his lawsuit, his actions had the effect of drawing the university's heretofore hidden homosexual community out in force to demand that the school abandon its traditional biblical values on marriage and sexuality and adopt “LGBT-inclusive” policies.
On November 6 more than 50 supposedly LGBT Azusa students gathered for a “prayer vigil” in support of Pradhan and to deliver a letter to university officials demanding, among other concessions, that the pro-homosexual group Haven be recognized as an official Azusa Pacific University student club, and that the school remove sections in its student handbook that prohibit homosexual behavior.
One such section mandates that Azusa Pacific students “may not engage in a romanticized same-sex relationship,” while another states that the university “only recognizes the marriage between a man and a woman.”
The school's “identity statement” expands on its commitment to biblical values regarding sexuality, reading: “We hold that the full behavioral expression of sexuality is to take place within the context of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman and that individuals remain celibate outside of the bond of marriage. Therefore, we seek to cultivate a community in which sexuality is embraced as God-given and good and where biblical standards of sexual behavior are upheld.”
Azusa Pacific's spokeswoman Rachel White emphasized that the school “adheres to a traditional definition of marriage. We are transparent about our belief. Each student must look at the university’s values and decide if APU is the right place for them. It’s an individual choice.”