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Bills aim to force Calif. Christian colleges to embrace transgenders or lose funding, critics warn

Two bills currently moving through the California statehouse, purporting to prevent LGBTQ discrimination, are actually designed to cripple the state’s Christian colleges, critics say.

AB-1888, if approved, would disqualify Christian colleges from receiving state-funded student financial aid if the institutions deny students on the basis of their “sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” What’s more, the bill would disallow colleges from obtaining waivers from the U.S. Department of Education on the issue.

A companion bill, SB 1146, would mandate Christian schools tell prospective students their institutions are discriminatory.

Proponents of the bills claim they would “prohibit Cal Grant funding to institutions with a license to discriminate.” Critics see it much differently.

The two bills would “essentially cripple colleges by forcing them to implement gay-friendly protections on campus or lose state and federal financial aid for students,” states the conservative law firm Advocates for Faith and Freedom.

“The punitive laws would undermine federal protections that have long exempted religious colleges from adopting anti-discrimination laws that violate the tenets of their faith,” the law firm stated in a news release. “The consequences of these bills are so dire that one pro-family watchdog group has warned that their passage would usher in Armageddon for those seeking higher education from a biblical perspective.”

“…If these bills are successful, Christian colleges, for instance, would have to allow a male student who perceives his gender as being ‘female’ to live in the women’s dorm to avoid the risk of a lawsuit or the loss of financial aid options for students. Similar consequences could also become a reality if a Christian university dismisses a professor or staff member after discovering they were living with a same-sex partner.”

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Note that AB 1888 would not force all-male or women’s schools to accept applicants of other genders, but rather, if approved, would force such institutions to admit students based on their gender identity rather than biological sex, and regardless of their sexual orientation.

The implications of the bills remain controversial. It could mean that biological males that identify as females may end up rooming with biological females. Any school that refuses to comply would then be accused of discriminating, resulting in loss of their Cal Grant funding.

According to state Assemblymember Evan Low’s Communications Director Melissa Apuya, AB 1888 is currently in the appropriations committee and will receive a final vote this week, which will determine whether it goes to the Assembly floor. If the bill passes the entire assembly could vote on it as early as May 31, she told The College Fix via email.

Religious liberty watchdogs say the bills are controversial and contentious.

SB 1146 is designed to “provide a legal remedy for students, for instance, who are admitted to a religious institution before revealing that they are LGBT and are later denied readmission or housing or face harassment,” reports Religious Liberty. “On the other hand, the California Catholic Conference warns that the bill is vague and creates a state-level ‘civil cause of action for violation of the Equal Protection Clause and provisions of the Due Process’ clause even if an institution is in compliance with federal law. According to the CCC, ‘this coercive mandate to waive federally-protected statutory and constitutional rights is simply indefensible.’”

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About the Author
William Nardi