LGBTQ rights bill targeting faith-based colleges revised
August 22nd, 2016
By Valerie Schmalz
Legislation that would have violated the religious freedom of faith-based colleges in California is in the process of being rewritten and the California Catholic Conference expects to remove its opposition, a Catholic Conference official said.
In its original language, SB 1146 would have jeopardized California financial aid grants for tens of thousands of Latino, African-American and low-income students because of onerous regulations purporting to protect LGBTQ students and employees from discrimination that would have required colleges to choose between accepting state financial aid or remaining independent.
But a compromise reached between bill author Sen. Richard Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, is expected to remove the restrictions and also to remove a newly added disclosure requirement that would also have impinged on the colleges’ independence, said Ray Burnell, education specialist for public policy arm of the California bishops. The added disclosure requirement would have mandated publicizing infractions of religious colleges’ codes of conduct.
SB 1146 was co-authored by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and was sponsored by Equality California and the ACLU.
The acceptable language of the bill is expected to include a requirement that the faith-based colleges disclose that they are exempt from provisions of Title IX of federal law regulating higher education and therefore can require students and faculty to comply with campus regulations based on religious principles. Most already do and that was a proposal suggested by the Catholic conference. Existing California law exempts religious schools from nondiscrimination laws in cases where applying these laws “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.”
The conference is waiting to see the language before it withdraws its objection but is optimistic that the new version will be acceptable, Burnell said.
From August 25, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.