Tennessee state House OK’s bill allowing discrimination by college clubs


Staff Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee House of Representatives on Monday passed a bill that would prohibit public universities and colleges from implementing non-discrimination policies for student groups.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon, passed by a vote of 75-21. The measure would allow student groups to discriminate in their policies and membership, and exclude anyone not committed to the organization’s mission.

The bill does not apply to private institutions, such as Vanderbilt University — a provision that caused Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to veto last year’s version.

Pody said the measure is aimed at preventing colleges from creating policies requiring student groups to open membership to all students and allow all members to seek leadership posts.

Christian groups have protested a non-discrimination policy at Vanderbilt, saying it forces them to allow nonbelievers and gay students to join.

Officials say about 15 student groups have refused to comply with the policy, while 480 have accepted it.

A similar bill was approved last month in the Virginia state legislature.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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