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Sexual Orientation and SMSU's Non-Discrimination Policy

The Lambda Alliance sponsored the town hall meeting that attracted people on both sides of the debate over whether sexual orientation should be part of the school's non-discrimination policy.

Melody Lehnerer is the head of the lambda alliance, a group consisting of graduate students, faculty and staff who favor expanding the policy.

She says it's important to think about the issue in light of the university's mission.

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University administrators and the board of governors insist the current policy bans discrimination based on sexual orientation even though it's not stated explicitly.

Paul Redfern is the president of the s-m-s board of governors.

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External pressures are forcing individual departments to create their own non-discrimination policies that explicitly include sexual orientation.

Lehnerer says some departments must list sexual orientation in their policy to maintain accreditation.

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That argument is new to Paul Redfern.

He told k-s-m-u he was not aware of any issues involving non-discrimination policies and accreditation.

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Redfern and the other governors have come under criticism from those like Lehnerer because the board has not taken a vote on expanding the non-discrimination policy.

Lehnerer says the board had a chance to vote at its meeting in May but glossed over the issue instead.

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Redfern says just because there hasn't been a vote doesn't mean it's a closed issue.

He says he welcomes continued dialogue.

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Like s-m-s-u, the University of Missouri does not include sexual orientation in its policy.

And within the m-u system, there are schools and departments that have written their own non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation.

Redfern says even though the policy for the university does not explicitly include sexual orientation, he's willing to say explicitly that the university will not tolerate any discrimination.

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Redfern's words may be put to the test soon.

Lehnerer says there is a case involving allegations of discrimination based on sexual orientation making its way through the process.

Lehnerer says she's anxious to see the results of this test case.

As for the university, it has an equal opportunity sub committee studying the adequacy of the non-discrimination policy.

The group's report is expected to be complete by early December.