A California state bill designed to prevent sexual orientation and gender identity-based discrimination at private universities will expose faith-based schools to massive legal threats, officials have warned.
Introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) in February and approved by the state Senate in May, Senate Bill 1146 aims to close a “loophole” in the state law under which private colleges can make decisions based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Speaking on the need for the bill, Lara said there are currently 34 universities in the state that don’t have to comply with nondiscrimination laws, which leave thousands of students open to discrimination.
But opponents of the law argue that the “loophole” is a purposeful and essential protection to make sure that universities’ religious liberty is protected.
John Jackson, the president of Rocklin, Calif.-based William Jessup University, said, “For us, the most chilling effect of this bill if it becomes law is it could result in an attempt to eliminate faith-based decisions when it comes to admission, housing, and perhaps even employment at faith-based campuses.”
Critics also warned that the new bill would make it just impossible for the state’s faith-based private schools to operate under any religious principles.
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