Virginia AG wants colleges to rescind anti-discrimination policies

Posted on 05 Mar 2010 at 12:41pm

The Washington Post is reporting that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has issued a directive calling on state colleges and universities to rescind their policies banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Cuccinelli says that the schools’ boards do not have the legal authority to enact such policies, and that only the state Legislature has that right.

The Virginia Legislature, by the way, voted this week, once again, to reject a law protecting people against anti-LGBT discrimination.

Cuccinelli wrote: “It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity,’ ‘gender expression,’ or like classification as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy absent specific authorization from the General Assembly.”

The Post notes that “all of Virginia’s leading schools” have adopted such policies, and that Cuccinelli’s order is likely to “spark outrage” among the students and faculties at those schools.

In fact, the Post quoted, Vincent F. Callahan Jr., a former Republican member of the House of Delegates who serves on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University, who said, “What he [Cuccinelli] is saying is reprehensible. I don’t know what he’s doing, opening up this can of worms.”

And Carl Pucci,  president of the student body at Old Dominion University, told the Post, “It’s going to be a mess. There’s no doubt about that. Our generation is really open-minded. The concept of discrimination, we’re just not interested in that…I think you’re going to see the whole gamut, from angry letters to protests.”

But there are those who are applauding Cuccinelli’s effort. They include Chris Freund of the Family Foundation, who “applauded Cuccinelli for his consistency.” The Family Foundation has long argued that laws protecting people from anti-gay discrimination are unnecessary and do not help schools attract the best students and faculty.

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