A proposal to add sexual orientation to the list of protected characteristics in William Jewell College's student bill of rights has sparked fierce debate at the Baptist liberal arts college, reports The Kansas City Star.
Supporters said that, as a liberal arts college, William Jewell is long overdue in considering such a change. Opponents, however, counter that it would condone homosexuality and contradict the college's Christian mission. Detractors also worry that the amendment would jeopardize funding from the Missouri Baptist Convention.
The bill's author, B.J. Cardin, a junior senator, argues that the current student bill of rights does not represent the entire campus. Cardin said that in essence the college community is excluding gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals.
"On a Christian campus, it's difficult to bring up sexual orientation because people bring out their Bibles and point out 'but God said it's a sin,' " he said. "I'm not trying to convince people that homosexuality is not right or a sin, but because [gay people] are on this campus, they should be represented in the bill of rights."
Cardin said he thought of introducing the bill in light of the college's recent focus on diversity: "What I realized is that we're pushing diversity but that our own student bill of rights…doesn't address all the areas of diversity."
The bill needs a three-fourths majority to pass in the student senate. If it is approved, the bill then undergoes a campus vote. The measure would need a simple majority to pass.