Target: Missouri State Representative Elijah Haahr
Goal: Abandon proposed law that would allow university student groups to discriminate against LGBT students
Elijah Haahr, a state representative in the Missouri legislature, has introduced a bill that would allow student groups to discriminate against LGBT students in the state’s public universities. This is the latest move in an ongoing effort to chip away at protections for all students at public institutions of higher education in the name of “religious freedom.” Demand that Representative Haahr abandon this bill immediately.
Representative Haahr’s proposal, designated HB 104, is designed to give student-run public university Christian groups free rein to allow or disallow students into their groups on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender. Couched in the language of religious liberty, the bill says that religious student associations should not be “discriminated against” for “adhering to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” The alleged discriminations Haahr is referring to are the nondiscrimination policies that most public universities have in place which protect LGBT students and that student groups, even religious ones, must adhere to in order to acquire funding and use space on campuses. Though the irony that Haahr should cry discrimination in order to bypass existing anti-discrimination protections seems like it should be self-evident, Haahr is merely trying to pass the same kind of law that Virginia successfully passed in 2013.
Representative Haahr has forgotten that public universities are by their very nature public and therefore subject to the civil rights protections allotted by federal and state governments. Sign the petition below to demand that Representative Haahr abandon his discriminatory bill at once.
Dear Representative Haahr,
I am writing you today regarding HB 104, the bill you created that would allow religious student groups in Missouri’s public universities to discriminate against LGBT students and would-be group members. This bill is misguided and erodes very necessary protections for LGBT university students that are already in place.
Though I know that Virginia’s state legislature was able to pass a law like your own a number of years ago, that should not be interpreted as a sign that these kinds of laws are just. Without even touching on the issue of whether religious beliefs that openly and enthusiastically condemn swaths of the human race just for how they were born are valid, there is still the issue that the universities you are hoping to legislate are public institutions, and as such are compelled to protect the civil rights of minorities, including LGBT students. Your bill would discriminate against members of the LGBT community, and therefore be found unconstitutional and invalid.
This bill reeks of the false discrimination-against-Christians narrative that is all too common among the religious right. Besides, if the sad reality came to pass that any religious group on any college campus was openly hostile to LGBT students, don’t you think that LGBT students would stay as far away from it as they could in the first place? Your bill is unnecessary and discriminatory, and I urge you to abandon it immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Zscout370 via Wikimedia Commons