City Desk

Non-Discrimination Clause Non-Approved at Catholic U.

Administrators at the Catholic University of America don't want the school's Graduate Student Association to ratify a constitution that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to a mass email sent by GSA Senators to graduate students in the university's National Catholic School of Social Service.

"After the new constitution was ratified by the student body, the Office of Campus Activities informed us that we could not include sexual orientation in that clause," explains the email. "The University says it does not discriminate against sexual orientation, but it will not publicly state it."

"Last Thursday evening, GSA held a special meeting to discuss this issue and decide if we are going to remove the sexual orientation clause and offer something in its place," the letter continues. "It was decided at the end of the meeting, sexual orientation would be included in our discrimination clause and that if the University wanted to remove it, then they would need to do so. GSA will not remove the clause. We are waiting on the University to officially tell us it has been removed, which will most likely come today."

No GSA senators could be reached for comment. Calls to university administrators were redirected to the school's office of communications, which did not respond by deadline. We'll update this post if they respond.

The letter urges students to attend a town-hall style meeting on Wednesday with university President John Garvey to appeal to him about the policy. "This is social justice in action!," it says.

A fight over a nondiscrimination clause would be the latest cultural controversy at the school. Catholic last year was accused of infringing upon Muslim students’ rights by refusing to give official status to non-Catholic worship groups. The complaint was instigated by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, who earlier that year went after Catholic’s decision to revert back to single-sex dorms. (The D.C. Office of Human Rights decided that single-sex dorms did not constitute discrimination.) And in February, Garvey testified before Congress against President Barack Obama's proposed rule requiring most insurers to cover contraception, a subject that became a top cause among social conservatives.

Catholic’s graduate school admissions policy skirts the issue of sexual orientation entirely—it is conspicuously absent from the laundry list of protected identities, including “race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age or disability." However, according to the school’s website, the non-discrimination policy did include sexual orientation until August 2006.

The University's LGBT student group, CUAllies, is neither officially recognized nor funded by the university.

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