Proposed bill will put an end to anti-LGBT discrimination by Christian colleges in California.
Senate Bill 1146 proposed by Senator Ricardo Lara, representing the 33rd district, would reduce the amount of religious colleges that can qualify for religious exemptions. And, if the bill is passed, the colleges receiving federal religious exemptions would have to disclose that fact to the prospective students willing to join the college in the future.
Assembly Bill 1888 proposed by Assemblyman Evan Low, representing the 28th district, would prevent awarding Cal Grants to colleges that violate the state nondiscrimination laws.
According to Evan Low, it is not right to use the “taxpayer money to subsidize colleges that discriminate against LGBT students.”
According to a report from the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group based in Washington D.C., at least seven colleges from California, since 2013 have applied for religious exemptions. Federal compliance is tied to millions of dollars in federal funding, hence, the federal religious exemption carries more weight than the state exemption. In many cases, applications for religious waivers include the primary indication of the intention of the federal government in protecting the rights of transgender students.
Supporters of the bill say that the bill would protect the rights of minorities while critics argue that the bill represents an attack on religious freedom. The critics also believe that the new bills, if passed, would make it very difficult for schools to get an exemption on religious grounds, and would force the religious colleges to comply with the California nondiscrimination laws, laws that may conflict with their religious beliefs.
— Elizabeth J. Meyer (@lizjmeyer) June 1, 2016
According to the president of the National Center for Law & Policy, Dean Broyles, there are 42 colleges in California that qualify for the state religious exemption, all of which may face costly discrimination lawsuits without the religious exemptions. The National Center is a legal organization based in Escondido that advocates on behalf of Christian organizations.
In 2014, Biola University, an evangelical Christian college, applied for a federal religious exemption. This particular university stated that its religious beliefs only allows it to accept heterosexual and gender-conforming people. Biola requested the authority to expel the transgender students, and to refuse to admit or accommodate them. The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights requested more information from the University stating that Biola is not controlled by a religious organization. No decision to deny or approve has been announced.
Senate Bill 1146, if approved, will help to put an end to this kind of discrimination.