A Christian university in Texas will ban student employees from being in same-sex relationships next school year, according to the Texas Tribune.
The new policy by Abilene Christian University adds another layer to a set of guidelines and rules that some say already bordered on discrimination, although ACU officials believe they are on solid legal and moral ground.
What’s the new rule?
Faculty and staff at Abilene Christian University are already banned from dating people of the same sex. Now, ACU is expanding that rule to apply to many of its student employees.
There will be some exceptions. Positions that would impact standards set by accrediting bodies and the National Collegiate Athletic Association will be exempt from this rule change.
ACU’s policy is unique in that while many schools ban sexual same-sex relationships, ACU is also including dating.
Why is ACU making this change?
The school’s belief that sexual relationships should only occur between a man and a woman is explicit within current policies and codes of conduct.
Still, the student handbook will reflect that students who are not employees are free to be in same-sex relationships as long as they remain sexually abstinent. The same rule applies to heterosexual relationships.
“Our goal here is not to place an undue restriction on students,” ACU President Phil Schubert said. “But we’re recognizing that employees, we believe, are asked to do something different in terms of carrying out the mission of the institution and delivering the educational experience that we’re offering.”
Is this legal?
Title IX prohibits federally funded colleges from discriminating based on sex but does not specifically include sexual orientation.
An exemption exists within Title IX that allows religiously based schools freedom from adhering to parts of the law that contradict their beliefs if they petition the federal government.
Still, some believe that amounts to discrimination.
“Just because you say that your religious faith or your religious belief doesn’t allow you to have an openly LGBT person on your campus, I don’t care how you say it, it’s discrimination,” Shane Windmeyer, founder of Campus Pride, told the Tribune. “Whether you can legally do it or not, we’re going to call you out on it.”
(H/T: Inside Higher Ed)