Christian Organization Rejected At Duke University


Photo Credits: Pixabay

Young Life, a Christian organization which, like many evangelic groups, regards same-sex relations as sinful, has been denied official status as a student group at Duke University. Duke University's student government made this decision because of Young Life's policy on sexuality which forbids LGBTQ staff and volunteers from holding positions in the organization. This case is just one of many ongoing clashes between religious student groups and colleges and universities that have added more robust nondiscrimination policies.

Duke University has a guideline which instructs every Duke student group to include a nondiscrimination statement in its constitution and Young Life and its policy violate this guideline. The student government of Duke University first objected to a clause in Young Life's policy but they received an answer that the organization would not change its sexuality policy. The disputatious Young Life's sexual misconduct policy states that "we do not in any way wish to exclude persons who engage in sexual misconduct or who practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of ministry of God's grace and mercy as expressed in Jesus Christ. We do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life," as Duke Chronicle reports. The result is a decision by the student government to deny Young Life.

This is not the only case where colleges or universities are trying to prevent discrimination based on sexuality. Religious groups' positions on sexuality are often contrary to nondiscrimination policies adopted by colleges or universities. According to The Religion News Service, Greg Jao, senior assistant to the president at the religious group InterVarsity, said about 70 colleges and universities have attempted to exclude InterVarsity chapters over the years —  in some cases because it bars LGBTQ employees, in others because its faith statement more generally violates school nondiscrimination policies. Some of these cases have been resolved but others have ended up in court. For example InterVarsity is now suing the University of Iowa and Wayne State University.

No matter the fact that religious groups have different positions on sexuality this is not the reason to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and even to define this discrimination clause in the organization's policy. Young Life has been instructed to change its policy in order to be accepted by Duke University's student government as official student group and this was backed up by Duke University's guideline on nondiscrimination. The organization refused to change its policy so the outcome is that it was denied and with this denial Duke University prevented discrimination to become a part of its official student groups.

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