By Kellie Dietrich
In November, The Minstrel published my article “‘Sexual orientation’ missing from non-discrimination policies.” Seeing this article published was a proud moment for me as a journalist. I’m glad my article is still leading to faculty discussions four months later, and was glad to see “sexual orientation” being included in the NSSEE survey, which DeSales did not include in any previous years.
The Notice of Non-Discrimination found in the student handbook and faculty handbook says, “DeSales University will accept and make available to all students, faculty members or employees on a non-discriminatory basis, without regard to age, sex, race, color, disability, veteran status, national origin, or ancestry, all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students, faculty members, and employees.”
Clearly, sexual orientation is missing (and many non-discrimination policies list gender expression and gender identity as well), but it’s about way more than adding words to a list. It’s about the students. It’s about the faculty and staff. It’s about equal treatment.
One of the key reasons same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S. is because of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It says states should not deny any person “the equal protection of the laws,” so I don’t think it is fair for DeSales to deny recognition to the LGBT population in their policies.
However, do you notice anything else missing from the non-discrimination clause?
Ironically enough, the nondiscrimination policies of this religious-based institution are lacking religion, which most non-discrimination policies include.
The students and staff at DeSales have diverse religions. Of course, Catholicism is the majority on campus; however, people practicing different religions may feel like the odd man out and unable to express their views.
Discrimination is not dead.
According to Pew Research Center in 2015, anti-Muslim assaults in the U.S. were at the highest level since Sept. 11 era levels. In 2001 there were 93 reported aggravated or simple assaults motivated by anti-Muslim bias while in 2015, there were 91, and that number most likely increased for 2016 and still increasing today. Additionally, there were 257 anti-Muslim hate crimes incidents in 2015, which is 67 percent higher than the previous year.
Sexual orientation and religion need to be protected by the University.
I have definitely made my opinions clear on the subject, but read Father Dailey’s “Letter to the editor,” which also relates back to my sexual orientation article and gives context to the most popular DeSales’ phrase: “Be who you are and be that well.”
I appreciate hearing the feedback and different voices at the University. If you would like to send a “Letter to the Editor” for a future publication, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.