Update: On May 24, the conference committee for SB 215 filed its official report but did not include the discriminatory amendment added by Rep. Krause. The House and Senate both adopted the report and forwarded the bill to Gov. Perry for his signature. This means the discriminatory amendment will not become law.
We have learned that state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Ft. Worth, plans to propose a surprise amendment on the House floor today that would force colleges and universities to give their official approval to student organizations that discriminate. This would open the door to university funding for extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and anti-gay organizations that want to establish student chapters.
Call your state representative NOW and ask him or her to oppose Krause’s amendment to SB 215 (a bill reauthorizing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board). (Click here to find out who represents you.)
What’s wrong with the amendment?
Universities, just like the Texas Capitol, are limited public forums. They must provide a space for any speech and gathering, but they aren’t required to allow that speech and association to take place everywhere and in all circumstances. Moreover, the Supreme Court of the United States in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez ruled that public universities have a right to require that officially recognized student organizations open their memberships to all students, stating that “a governmental entity, in regulating property in its charge, may impose restrictions on speech that are reasonable in light of the purposes of the forum and viewpoint neutral.”
Tell your representative:
While colleges and universities should protect the right to free speech and free association for students and student organizations, they should not be required to look the other way when student organizations discriminate. But this amendment would require institutions of higher education to:
- Allow officially recognized student organizations that receive taxpayer-funded support from the university to discriminate based on race, religion, veteran status, HIV/AIDS status, gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
- Officially sanction and even provide funding for student chapters of organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist, white-supremacist or anti-Semitic groups.