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Missouri State Board of Governors Adds "Sexual Orientation" to Non-Discrimination Policy

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/missourist_818.mp3

By a vote of 5 to 3, the Missouri State University Board of Governors voted today to list sexual orientation in the university's non-discrimination policy. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

By a vote of 5 to 3, the Missouri State University Board of Governors voted today to list sexual orientation in the university's non-discrimination policy.

The vote took place at the board's meeting in St Louis and came in response to a recommendation from the university president's commission on diversity.

The commission suggested the wording in the current policy might be too ambiguous.

Mike Franks is the president of the Board of Governors.

The additional wording comes in the middle of a sentence which now reads in part: The university does not discriminate on any basis, including but not limited to sexual orientation and political affiliation."

Franks says these were two examples that he hopes will clarify the policy, not change it.

Reaction to today's vote has been mixed.

Republican Governor Matt Blunt and the Republican House Speaker Rod Jetton both issued statements criticizing the board's decision.

Blunt says today's decision is a bad one.

Franks says the board made a decision only after lengthy study and serious consideration.

A professor who has long been at the front of getting sexual orientation added to the non-discrimination policy called today's vote a victory.

Ralph Smith is a communications professor at Missouri State.

Smith credits Missouri State University President Michael Nietzel with facilitating today's board action.

Smith says Nietzel has demonstrated a concern for diversity on campus.

Smith says the board's action sends a message to gays, lesbians and bi-sexuals on campus.

While Ralph Smith calls today's action a victory, Board President Mike Franks says not to read too much into what the board did.

He says what the board did today was clarify its policy, it did not send a message.

Again, the Missouri State University Board of Governors voted today 5 to 3 to include sexual orientation and political affiliation in its non-discrimination policy.