Tennessee Debates Whether Campus Groups Should Have to Accept All-Comers

Mar 29, 2012

Tennessee lawmakers are looking at legislation that would prevent state universities from extending non-discrimination policies to campus religious groups.  A Tennessee Senate committee has unanimously approved a bill what would forbid the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Board of Regents Systems from applying non-discrimination rules to faith-based campus organizations.

The Tennessean reports the legislation follows a controversy at Vanderbilt University—a private school—over whether its “all-comers” policy should apply to religious organizations.

Earlier this year, Vanderbilt administrators announced that they would not allow university-recognized groups to discriminate against students who want to be members or leaders, even if they disagree over core beliefs held by the organization.

Vanderbilt adopted the rules after a Christian group on campus expelled an openly gay member.

Supporters of the bill say groups shouldn’t be forced to accept those who disagree with central tenets of the organization, while opponents say state-funded schools shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate.