Friday
February 3, 2006
SGN.org
Volume 34
Issue 05
 
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Local students to join Soulforce for cross-country trip
Local students to join Soulforce for cross-country trip
Project to promote tolerance of Gay students in religous schools

ELLENSBURG, WA - Central Washington University senior sociology majors Diane Bedwell, from Lynnwood, and Jen Ham, from Fort Lewis, have been named to a selected group of 30 "Equality Riders" that will deliver a message of love and tolerance to military and religious colleges around the country.

The project is sponsored by Soulforce, a faith-based organization that seeks freedom for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students from religious and political oppression through nonviolent resistance. The student-led project will focus on schools that ban the enrollment of LGBT students.

At each stop, participants, through dialogue with administrators and students, will challenge enrollment bans, attempt to expose institutional discrimination and will host vigils, Bible studies, class discussions, community forums and press conferences to bring attention to their cause.

For the project, Bedwell and Ham will take spring quarter off at the CWU. Neither wanted to miss the "opportunity for direct activism," as Ham put it.

"I love school, but my rights are equally as important," she adds. "It's worth it to me to take time off if I am able to open peopleĆ­s minds and humanize the LGBT community in the eyes of those who see us as somehow less equal or less human."

Bedwell looks at the Ride as a way to champion freedom and equality, which are restricted for many segments of the population.

"We need change, but more importantly we need to open our minds and hearts to be the change," she notes. "The most effective way to open minds and hearts is through honest, open conversation."

The ride begins on March 10 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and ends on April 26 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

The Equality Riders are reminiscent of the non-violent message spread by the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights movement.



A CWU press release

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