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Student sues Fuller Theological Seminary for being expelled because of same-sex marriage

Christian institutions that remain true to their standards increasingly are coming under fire. Last week, a female student sued Fuller Theological Seminary, accusing it of violating Title IX rules when it expelled her for being in a same-sex marriage.

Joanna Maxon was informed of the expulsion after the Financial Aid office discovered it on her tax returns. Fuller is a nondenominational, evangelical Christian seminary.

“Defendants discriminated against Mrs. Maxon based on her sexual orientation because it expelled Mrs. [Joanna] Maxon for entering into a civil same-sex marriage,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants also discriminated against Mrs. Maxon based on her sex and sexual orientation by subjecting her to stricter disciplinary action than Fuller would have subjected a male, heterosexual student.”

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Paul Southwick, one of the attorneys for Maxon, said this is the first case he’s argued in which the student filed a Title IX lawsuit because they have been expelled for a same-sex marriage.



A seminary spokesman said they could not offer a specific comment on anything related to one of their students. Fuller did, however, provide a statement noting that it is a historically multi-denominational seminary that has a commitment to academic freedom and strives to serve the global Christian church in its various perspectives.

“We remain committed to these relationships in all their complexities while maintaining community standards and a statement of faith that apply to various areas of beliefs and behavior,” the statement said. “Students are informed of and explicitly agree to abide by these standards when applying to the institution.”

According to the lawsuit, Maxon was expelled from Fuller in October 2018 for violating the seminary’s Community Standard: Sexual Standard, which prohibits, among other things, “homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct.” The expulsion came after Maxon had already completed more than three years of classes and had acknowledged her same-sex marriage to students and faculty, according to the lawsuit.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice