Representatives from the Liberty University Law School have been "un-invited" by Western Washington University to a law school information fair for the public university's undergraduates.Liberty University is the largest non-profit university in the nation and largest Christian university in the world. The Bellingham Herald writes on why WWU decided to bar Liberty from the information fair:
"The change happened after some Western students and staff brought up concerns that Liberty 'openly discriminates against LGBTQ identified people.'
After reviewing Liberty's non-discrimination policy, WWU officials decided that the policy was against Western's and therefore the schools shouldn't be represented on campus."
Liberal groups are claiming victory after 100 of the university's 13,800 undergraduates signed a petition to rescind the invitation to Liberty. The student who led the opposition reportedly met with the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington. Change.org writes in the "How We Won" blog post:
"Every year Western puts on the Law School Info Fair. This year the infamously homophobic Liberty University was invited to attend. Liberty was founded by none other than Jerry Falwell (the guy who blamed 9/11 on queer people and called a Teletubby gay). Good ol’ Jerry’s ideology spread to his university. They expel queer students, mark students down for taking pro-gay stances on tests, and encourage reparative therapy, which has been recognized as both ineffective and harmful by the American Psychological Association."
The Western Front, the WWU student newspaper, writes that administrators were concerned that the invitation retraction would make WWU vulnerable to legal charges but believe the university's nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Thus allowing the administration to "protect students from hostile or intolerant academic situations."
Liberty has reacted strongly to WWU's actions, as the law school's Dean has said WWU's invite retraction "raises serious First Amendment concerns." Dean Matthew Staver replied to the letter that Liberty received from WWU by warning the public university that he has already been granted permission from Liberty's chancellor to take whatever legal action necessary to protect the university's First Amendment rights. The Western Front writes:
"'The school does not change its position,' Staver said. 'We will not just simply do nothing.'
Liberty University School of Law is approved by the American Bar Association and its nondiscrimination policy has been approved by the association’s standards, Staver said.
No other school has denied Liberty access in its more than 40 years of existence, he said."
WWU administrators had invited Liberty's recruiting staff and other representatives to be briefed on WWU's nondiscrimination policy, as The Western Front writes "in hopes of Liberty understanding what it could do to be invited in coming years."