Iowa bill would allow university student groups to discriminate against LGBTQ

DES MOINES — One Iowa Action is opposing a new bill that would allow campus groups to get school funding while not following school discrimination policies.

The political action group said the bill was in reaction to a lawsuit brought against the University of Iowa by a Christian student business club.

The bill, SF 2344 (formerly SSB 3120) was introduced by the Iowa Senate Education Committee on Feb. 19. If passed, it would allow student organizations at public institutions to access school funds and facilities while violating equal access policies. It is now eligible for a vote on the Senate floor.

“There’s no question that freedom of speech is a necessity and bedrock principle of higher education,” One Iowa Action Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said in a statement. “This bill, however, goes much further than ensuring freedom of speech on college campuses. It gives campus groups the right to discriminate against others because of who they are while accessing public funds and publicly subsidized venues.

“This bill has been amended in an attempt to disguise protected class discrimination as discrimination based on a person’s actions. For example, if a student group at a public university banned head coverings in their code of conduct, it would be targeting certain religious groups who wear head coverings as part of their practice. Under this bill, however, this code of conduct would be acceptable and not considered discriminatory.”

“No student should be excluded from participating in publicly-funded student groups because of who they are, and this bill is a sneaky attempt to allow just that. This isn’t fair to the students paying activities fees, or to taxpayers who don’t want to subsidize discrimination. We call on Iowa Senators to oppose this bill.”