Equality for the LGBTQ community is an ongoing fight in the tumultuous history of American civil rights. According to this report from the Human Rights Campaign, nearly a full third of young adults are afraid to acknowledge their sexual identity at home or school out of fear of the backlash it may generate. It may seem difficult to wrap one’s head around that sort of thinking when one of the most successful sitcoms ever made prominently features a happily-married gay couple and the Supreme Court has made marriage a right available to all, but there is always sign that the work is never done for those seeking equal rights for all.
Carson-Newman University, a widely-hailed liberal arts college in the heart of Tennessee, has successfully filed for a Title IX exemption for those groups whose lifestyle they don’t deem in line with the Southern Baptist school’s Christian underpinnings as part of an “association of churches.” This request allows Carson-Newman to reject members of the LGBTQ community, as well as women who have a child out of wedlock or have had an abortion, even women who may be pregnant.
The University president, Dr. Randall O’Brien stands behind the statement. In an interview with a CBS news affiliate, O’Brien testifies “This is who we are as a Christian University. These are our religious principles. And in a changing world, we would like to reaffirm that this is who we are and who we intend to be.” Carson-Newman isn’t alone in this action. The same legal counsel that urged the Title IX waiver be filed has filed similar waivers for a slew of other Christian schools. Over two dozen schools already have exemptions to this effect in place.
While America may be making halting progress toward equality since the days of Matthew Shepard, there is still much to be done, especially in what are supposed to be bastions of enlightenment: American colleges and universities. According to the Huffington Post, at least a quarter of gay, lesbian and bisexual students face harassment for their sexual orientation. In a nation rooted in the principle of equality, it is a sad reality that not everyone realizes that dream. It is important not to lose sight of that ideal, the thought of justice for all, in the frantic scramble to defend one’s own identity.