(CNSNews.com) -- A Christian student senator at the University of California-Berkeley is facing pressure from her peers to resign from the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), the school’s officially recognized student organization, because she abstained from an Oct. 31 vote about the legal definition of gender.
Isabella Chow, a junior, abstained from an ASUC resolution that opposed the “Trump administration’s proposed definition of sex under Title IX.”
According to The New York Times, the proposal by the Department of Health and Human Services would legally define sex as “either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.”
In explaining her decision to abstain from the vote, Chow cited her Christian beliefs.
“I cannot vote for this bill without compromising my values and my responsibility to the community that elected me to represent them,” Chow wrote in a statement on Facebook. “As a Christian, I personally do believe that certain acts and lifestyles conflict with what is good, right, and true. I believe that God created male and female at the beginning of time, and designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman.”
Many of Chow’s peers were angered by her refusal to vote in favor of the resolution. The Queer Alliance Resource Center at U.C. Berkeley created a petition calling for her resignation. CalTV released a statement condemning her. Her own political party, Student Action, disaffiliated with her.
“As a party, we are committed to ensuring that the rights and dignity of the Queer and Trans community on this campus are guaranteed,” Student Action wrote in its statement, adding that the party had “resolved to part ways with ASUC Senator Isabella Chow due to inconsistencies between her beliefs and the mission of Student Action.”
In addition, The Daily Californian, U.C. Berkeley’s student-run newspaper, wrote an editorial condemning Chow’s statements as “transphobic” and “homophobic.”
“Chow’s language erased and dehumanized individuals who already experience marginalization and violence at a significant rate,” the editorial board wrote. “She perpetuated the stigma that individuals who identify outside the gender binary face on a daily basis. Chow must stop framing these remarks as personal opinions or views. These statements are offensive and disturbing invalidations of human beings.”
In her statement, Chow asserted that “discrimination against or harassment of” anyone is “never, ever okay,” and affirmed the value of members of the LGBTQ community.
“In God’s eyes and therefore my own, everyone of you here today and in the LGBTQ+ community as a whole is significant, valid, wanted, and loved – even if and when our views differ,” she wrote.
Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at U.C. Berkeley, told CNSNews.com that the ASUC is legally independent from the university, and that the views of the ASUC do not represent those of the campus administration.
“Our student government, the Associated Students of the University California (ASUC), is legally autonomous and independent from the university. As a result, the student government and its members speak only for themselves and do not represent the views of the campus administration one way or the other. The University will maintain its unwavering commitment to Free Speech, and its support for our Principles of Community, which apply to all of Berkeley’s students, staff, and faculty.
“While the campus administration doesn’t interfere with the internal governance of the student government or registered student organizations, we have a Student Conduct Process that provides for disciplinary action to be taken in response to a student complaint that a student organization has violated campus nondiscrimination policies.”