On Monday, Feb. 19, the Iowa Senate Education Committee reintroduced SF 2344 (formerly SSB 3120) after advancing it through committee last Wednesday. The bill 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.
SF 2344 is a direct response to Business Leaders in Christ’s lawsuit against the University of Iowa. This student organization violated not only the university’s nondiscrimination policy, but the Iowa Civil Rights Act when they denied one of their members a leadership position because he was gay. The university responded by revoking the group’s official student organization status, which allowed them to use school resources. Business Leaders in Christ then sued the university, and their case is currently in litigation.
One Iowa Action Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel condemned SF 2344 in a statement.
“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. “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.”