Students didn't want Pence's bigotry tainting their graduation ceremony.
Dozens of students from Taylor University in Indiana walked out of their graduation ceremony on Sunday in protest of Mike Pence delivering the commencement address. Taylor University is an evangelical Christian university in Pence's home state.
"I think his presence makes it difficult for everyone at Taylor to feel welcomed," graduate Laura Rathburn told the Indianapolis Star. She decorated her mortarboard in LGBTQ rainbow colors and added the message "Ally Visible For Those Who Can't Be."
Other graduates wore stickers on their mortarboards that said, "We are Taylor too," and told the paper that they were supporting marginalized people that have been hurt by Trump's bigoted administration.
Before Pence spoke, thousands signed an online petition asking for the invitation to be rescinded, citing Pence's long history of opposing LGBTQ equality as well as his role in the Trump administration.
Some students told the Indianapolis Star that they opposed Pence's presence because Trump does not represent the Christian values central to the university's mission.
One student, Marilyn Dodd, carried a sign that said, "VP Pence does not stand for Christian values."
"Mr. Pence does not have a servant's heart if he cannot defy someone who criticizes and ridicules the little ones who Jesus himself said 'let come unto me,'" Christine Newman-Aumiller, an alumnus of the school, told a local radio station.
The protest was not the first time Pence has been protested at a commencement in his home state of Indiana. Students walked out of the 2017 graduation ceremony as Pence spoke, pointing out their belief that Pence and the Trump administration adhere to ideologies and policies contrary to Christian tradition.
Pence's speech and invitation was described as "an endorsement of policies and actions which directly contradict Catholic social teachings and values and target vulnerable members of the University's community" by Notre Dame student Xitlaly Estrada of WeStandforND in a release.
Pence's bigotry permeates everything he does, and while other public officials are often welcomed at graduation ceremonies, students simply refuse to remain silent. They refuse to give his hate a pass, even on their special day.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.