As clashes between conservative religious leaders and gay rights supporters flare across the country, a Christian college in Seattle has emerged as a key battleground for stakeholders on both sides.

Seattle Pacific University, which was founded by the Free Methodist Church, is currently embroiled in multiple lawsuits and investigations over its policies related to LGBTQ rights.

This summer, the school alleged religious freedom violations in a lawsuit against Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who had previously opened a civil rights investigation into Seattle Pacific.

Then, on Monday, “a group of students, faculty and staff” sued the school over employment rules “barring people in same-sex relationships from full-time jobs,” according to The Associated Press.

“The lawsuit, filed in Washington State Superior Court, requests that the defendants — including the university’s interim president, Pete Menjares — be removed from their positions. It asks that economic damages, in an amount to be determined at a jury trial, be paid to anyone harmed by the LGBTQ hiring policy,” the article said.

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Why are students suing Seattle Pacific University?

In the new lawsuit, students and other community members argue that the school’s hiring policy harms Seattle Pacific’s reputation and contributes to financial problems, The Associated Press reported, noting that the lawsuit is specifically against the six members of the school’s board of trustees.

In interviews, Seattle Pacific students have argued that the board’s actions are not in the best interest of the school and, in fact, go against what most community members believe.

“One thing that’s been hard to communicate to the public is how the actions of the board are so different from the rest of the university,” said recent Seattle Pacific graduate Chloe Guillot to The Associated Press. “The lawsuit goes through the ways these board members have orchestrated a coup that contradicts everything the university stands for.”

School officials told The Associated Press that they’re aware of the new lawsuit and preparing a response. Members of the board of trustees have previously said the hiring policy is consistent with the university’s religious mission.

“Our Board of Trustees continues to align institutional policies related to employment of faculty and staff with the (Free Methodist Church’s) traditional beliefs regarding human sexuality. At the same time, students will find a diversity of perspectives and convictions about these matters within our ecumenical campus community,” Seattle Pacific’s website says.

Why did Seattle Pacific sue Washington’s attorney general?

Leaders of Seattle Pacific University made similar arguments in their lawsuit against the attorney general, the Seattle Times reported. They said his investigation into the school’s hiring policies “violates the school’s constitutionally protected right to religious freedom.”

“The attorney general is wielding state power to interfere with the religious beliefs of a religious university, and a church, whose beliefs he disagrees with,” the lawsuit said, according to the Seattle Times.

Ferguson responded by criticizing the school’s lawsuit, noting that his office had only just begun looking into life on campus.

“My office respects the religious views of all Washingtonians and the constitutional rights afforded to religious institutions,” the attorney general said in a July 29 statement.

He continued, “My office did not prejudge whether Seattle Pacific University’s employment policies or its actions are illegal. ... The (school’s) lawsuit demonstrates that the university believes it is above the law to such an extraordinary degree that it is shielded from answering basic questions from my office.”

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The school’s lawsuit against Ferguson is still ongoing.

Why do the lawsuits against Seattle Pacific matter?

Seattle Pacific University is one of many religious colleges and universities facing pressure to change campus policies related to LGBTQ rights. Just last week, the Supreme Court got involved in a related legal battle focused on Yeshiva University in New York City.

In recent years, acceptance of same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ rights has grown significantly among students, a shift that’s led to new questions about old policies, as one expert on campus life, John Hawthorne, told the Deseret News last year.

“The mindset of students has changed dramatically. The mindset of the alumni and donors to Christian colleges has not,” he said.

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