Dear Campus Community,
The Little Blue House, an open and affirming campus ministry at The University of Tulsa, is disappointed to learn of TU administration’s validation of discriminatory policies pertaining to student groups through its charter of the Christian Legal Society. As an interfaith community, we support and defend religious freedom as integral to our identity. However, denying the fundamental rights of LGBTQ+ students is not freedom. Members of the Student Bar Association echoed a precedent set by the Supreme Court in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez in concluding that chartering a CLS chapter at TU would violate the SBA’s anti-discrimination clause by granting special privileges and funding to a group that excludes members of the student body as a rule. Last month Oren Griffin, Dean of TU’s College of Law, overrode the Student Bar Association’s decision not to extend a charter, and therefore TU funds and privileges, to the CLS.
The CLS has made their opposition towards LGBTQ+ rights apparent through policy and pro-discrimination advocacy. All student members of the CLS are bound under penalty of possible suspension or expulsion to the organization’s Community Life Statement, which explicitly rejects the LGBTQ+ community by renouncing behavior that includes “…engaging in sexual relations other than within a marriage between one man and one woman.” By their own policies and procedures, the CLS discriminates based on sexual orientation and identity, both of which are protected under Title IX.
By rejecting the Student Bar Association’s decision not to extend a charter to the CLS, Dean Griffin has forced the Student Bar Association to go against TU’s and the SBA’s own laws and policies. This decision contradicts the democratically elected SBA’s right to self-governance and the university’s obligations under their own codified anti-discrimination policies. While students may believe as they wish as individuals or in groups, university-sanctioned organizations must be held to the same standard campus-wide. Extending special privileges to certain student organizations over others sets a dangerous example for campuses nationwide.
The painful implication is that the value and humanity of LGBTQ+ people has once again been treated as a matter of opinion. It is our hope that TU will honor the SBA’s original decision to support student organizations committed to inclusion. The Little Blue House takes this opportunity to reaffirm our own heritage of encouraging all to feel welcome under our roof, including those affiliated with the CLS charter. We offer free veggie lunches at the Little Blue House every Wednesday at noon and hope you will consider stopping by. All are welcome to come exactly as they are.
The Little Blue House