Group is seeking applications from LGBT youth ages 18 to 28 to participate in the 2-month bus tour
In March 2010, Austin-based Soulforce Q will begin its fourth Equality Ride. The youth bus tour visits colleges around the country to engage students and administrators about on-campus LGBT discrimination issues.
Soulforce Q is the youth arm of Soulforce, the group started by the Rev. Mel White to end religious oppression against the LGBT community.
The group is seeking applications from LGBT youth ages 18 to 28 to participate in the two-month bus tour to campuses with discriminatory policies against the LGBT community.
Caitlin MacIntyre is the director of next year’s Equality Ride. She says they are just in the planning stage now.
"Right now we are actively seeking riders. We are looking at schools throughout the country," she said. She said the itinerary, including the departure city, has yet to be determined.
During its first three years, the Equality Ride stopped on a total of about 70 different campuses. Last year, those schools included Dallas Baptist University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth and Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie.
MacIntyre said they were looking at schools in Texas again but they won’t make any final decisions until riders are recruited. To empower the riders, she said, they will have input on the final route and destinations. Individual riders may have special interests in visiting particular schools.
MacIntyre said the group’s goal is to engage students and administrators with dialogue through classroom workshops and connect the local LGBT community with people on campus. They draw attention to the danger of religious-based discrimination. When attempts at dialogue fail, they use civil disobedience, she said.
MacIntyre said the goal of the workshops is to teach "how to be an effective organizer" and "how to organize within conservative Christian communities."
Organizers of the ride are sending letters to schools that they may visit in the spring. MacIntyre said their experience is that some never answer. Others respond that they have no interest in having the group on campus. Some welcome the group and invite the dialogue.
The particular response, however, does not necessarily determine whether a school will eventually be included on the itinerary.
"We like to make every stop unique," MacIntyre said. To do that, she said they choose a variety of denominations as well as campuses where they will be welcomed and others where they have been barred.
Several years ago, the group was not welcome at Baylor University in Waco. MacIntyre said they were chalking information about meetings on sidewalks and were told to stop. When the group continued, they were arrested.
Last year, they were arrested for trespassing on the Waxahachie campus of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University. But Dallas Baptist decided to welcome the group and allowed workshops.
In addition to dialogue on campus, riders participate in community service projects. On one stop, they volunteered at a food bank. In another, they planted tulips.
MacIntyre said they are looking for 20 to 25 riders and applications are available on the Soulforce Web site, Soulforce.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 4, 2009.