Originally published: May 9, 2013, 9:14 a.m.
Updated: May 9, 2013, 12:49 p.m.

North Carolina Legislative Building. Photo Credit: Dave Crosby, via Flickr. Licensed CC.
North Carolina Legislative Building. Photo Credit: Dave Crosby, via Flickr. Licensed CC.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Senate today approved a bill that would allow student groups on college and university campuses to discriminate in membership and leadership.

The bill (S719) passed with no objections in the Senate and will now head for hearing in the state House. If passed, the proposed law would prohibit public institutions in the University of North Carolina System and the state’s community colleges from enforcing their non-discrimination policies among student group leadership, effectively allowing anti-LGBT and other types of discrimination in student groups, even if those student groups receive public funding.

The bill states that religious and political student groups could “determine that only persons professing the faith or mission of the group, and comporting themselves in conformity with, are qualified to serve as leaders of that organization.”

State Sen. Dan Soucek (R-Alleghany, Ashe) sponsored the bill. He called it a “common-sense” measure.

The legislation comes as a response to several past incidents.

In 2011, a gay student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill was kicked out of a Christian singing group. University administrators later ruled there was not enough evidence showing the group discriminated against the student for his sexual orientation, rather than his religious belief. Campus policy prohibits student groups from discriminating against students on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation, among other characteristics.

In 2003, administrators at Chapel Hill also challenged the membership and leadership standards of InterVarsity, a Christian campus group. The group was later allowed to re-affiliate with the school.

Last year, administrators at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro attempted to strip affiliation from a pro-abstinence, anti-choice group, Make Up Your Own Mind. The school later reversed its decision after students filed suit.

The bill is supported by Tami Fitzgerald and the North Carolina Values Coalition, a group known for its anti-LGBT advocacy and a leading proponent of last year’s anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment on marriage.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.