Editorial: It is time for our nondiscrimination policy to change

By The Beacon | February 27, 2013 9:00pm

(The Beacon)


Last Sunday a group of UP students posted an online petition to the University of Portland Board of Regents to include sexual orientation and gender identity in UP's Nondiscrimination Policy.

By Wednesday evening, the petition had more than 1,000 signatures, including not only those of students, but also of faculty and former employees of the University.

This overwhelming support makes it glaringly obvious how important it is to the University community that this policy changes.

It makes it glaringly obvious that the Statement on Inclusion is not enough to make all members of this community feel safe.

It is time for UP's administration to change this outdated, exclusionary policy.

The president mentioned during the Fireside Chat that the school cannot condone something that the Catholic Church does not condone.

And yet, many Catholic colleges include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policies, including Loyola Marymount University, Gonzaga University, Boston College and even Stonehill College, a Holy Cross institution. Seattle University includes both sexual orientation and gender identity.

The president also mentioned that part of the reason for excluding sexual orientation in the policy is the fear that this would in turn legally condone sexual practices.

However, the University has a sexual intimacy policy which forbids premarital sex for any student. Adding sexual orientation to the nondiscrimination policy would not invalidate the sexual intimacy policy. LGBTQ couples would still be held to the same standards of sexual conduct as heterosexual couples.

Many of those indifferent to or against changing the policy argue that if students don't like the policy the way it is, they shouldn't have come here.

But just because the members of this community have the choice to attend or work here does not mean it is just for an institution to exist to exclude certain members because of their very identity or who they love.

In a perfect world, in a world that believes in the "inherent dignity of each person," as stated in UP's Statement on Inclusion, there would be no places where certain people were unsafe, unwelcomed and treated unfairly.

This perfect world is nowhere close to being a reality. But in the meantime, our own community should be one of these places.

No professor should have to feel uncomfortable bringing their partner to a faculty dinner.

No student should have to fear being ridiculed in class because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

No couple should have to fight to ignore stares when they walk down the hall holding hands.

No one should have to fear compromising their position at the University because they dared to be "public" about their identity or sexual orientation.

It is time for UP's policies to reflect its belief in the "inherent dignity of each person."

It is time to take the first step toward creating a safe, welcoming environment for everyone in our community by guaranteeing each person legal protection against discrimination.

It is time to include sexual orientation and gender identity in UP's Nondiscrimination Policy.


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