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Gay Missouri college students call for nondiscrimination policies

Gay Missouri college students call for nondiscrimination policies

Gay and lesbian student groups vowed Thursday to remain steadfast until they persuade Southwest Missouri State University to revise its nondiscrimination policy to include protection for sexual orientation. "We do not give up. We have been back here year after year for 12 years," said Holly Baggett, an associate history professor at the Springfield campus. "They don't want to hear it. Well, I'm very sorry. We're going to continue on until they do." Baggett spoke to about 75 people during a rally on the steps of Carrington Hall, where the office of university president John Keiser is located. Some carried signs that read, "All means nothing, add sexual orientation" and "We shall be heard." The Lambda Alliance and the Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Alliance (BiGALA), which represent gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered faculty, staff, and students, are among the groups that have been working since 1991 to have the words sexual orientation included in the policy. Keiser, who believes the policy already covers everyone who works or attends classes at the university, did agree to debate the issue next Thursday with leaders of Lambda Alliance. The day after the debate, the university's board of governors is expected to consider the issue. The discussion will be limited, and outside speakers will not be allowed to address the board. State and federal laws do not require sexual orientation in a nondiscrimination policy, although hundreds of universities have added it voluntarily. "We are told by the president and board that SMS is in line with federal and state laws, and that is true," said Baggett, president of Lambda Alliance at the university. "Fifty years ago, when we were racially segregated, we were in line with state and federal laws."

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