October 31 was just another day for Isabella Chow, a student senator at the University of California, Berkeley. She attended an Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) Senate meeting and was asked to vote on several bills. One bill in particular focused on condemning the Trump administration for considering a legal definition of gender that would correspond to a person’s biological sex at birth. The bill also urged the university to increase support of “transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming students,” as well as groups associated with them.
When it came down to the final vote, Chow, a devout Christian, abstained. What followed was nothing short of pandemonium. Although Chow wrote a five-paragraph statement explaining the reasoning behind her decision, she was met with strong backlash, and her political party, Student Action, quickly disassociated with her.
“It came to the point where I was told, ‘You either fully support this bill and fully affirm the LGBTQ community or you’re out of this party.’ Before my community and before God, I couldn’t say with a clear conscience that I would support the bill. I couldn’t compromise on that,” Chow told Decision.
In her statement, Chow addressed her Biblical beliefs, writing, “I believe that God created male and female … and designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman.”
At the next ASUC Senate meeting, hundreds showed up to protest. The Queer Alliance and Resource Center (QARC) had organized the protest, while also circulating a petition calling for Chow’s resignation. The petition had garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
“There were a lot of slurs, a lot of cuss words that were said to me. But what I remember is that behind all of the anger and the hate are a lot of broken narratives, a lot of wounded hearts.”
Chow is not the only one in the crosshairs. Other Christians on campus have been targets of online attacks, and petitions to eliminate funding for Christian organizations, like InterVarsity, are being disseminated.
Yet Chow refuses to resign, and instead, chooses to continue to be a voice for the Christian community at Berkeley, which she calls the “silent minority.” And she believes that God is using this situation to increase dialogue and unity in the church and to encourage outreach to the LGBTQ community.
“It’s tricky because of fundamental worldview differences that make it difficult for both sides to communicate, but we trust the Holy Spirit to work, and we trust the Holy Spirit to touch the lives of people that we can’t reach by our own human efforts.”