ROCKLIN - A student said he was kicked out of a Rocklin university for being gay. Anthony Villarreal claims William Jessup University in Rocklin dismissed him last fall, but the private, Christian school insists they do not discriminate.
When Villarreal accepted a cross-country running scholarship at William Jessup University, he said he was still confused about his own sexuality. But by the time he decided to come out as gay, Villarreal knew it was something to keep private at the Christian university.
"There's a huge judgment of homosexuality at that school, and it makes us feel unwelcome," Villarreal said. "It makes us feel unworthy, and it makes us feel like we don't belong."
By his senior year, he was living with his boyfriend off campus in Sacramento. One day an argument drew police to their home. Even though Villarreal said the dispute was never violent, he was arrested for domestic violence -- the charges were eventually dropped. When school officials found out, they called him to a meeting and asked about his living arrangements.
"I was like, 'okay, well obviously, I'm gay. I haven't really come out. This is my first time coming out other than to my parents, now to you because I feel like I'm forced to,' I told him." Villarreal said. "And he goes, 'okay.' And then he goes, 'Well, how do you think we can fix this?'"
Villarreal said the school pointed out that living with his partner was a violation of both the student handbook and his athletic agreement. They ordered him to attend counseling and find a new place to live.
"The way I interpreted it is, make him straight. Make him leave his tie with his boyfriend. Have him see a counselor, and have her or him convince him that there's something wrong with him," Villarreal said.
A few weeks later he was formally dismissed.
"I feel like I was kicked out because I was on the verge of coming out, and they were scared," Villarreal said. "I don't know. I feel like they think that homosexuality at their school is a virus, and it's going to spread like wildfire."
University officials released a statement in response to Villarreal's claim: "While University policy prohibits us from discussing private student matters, we do not discriminate against students based on their sexual orientation. However, student participation in WJU is a voluntary association governed by a biblically-based code of conduct for every student enrolled at the University."
In response to the school's statement, Villarreal said, "I shared love with someone, just as someone shares love with someone else."
Villarreal said he was only eight classes short of graduating. His priority now is to find a school where he can finish his education.