Dear administrators, faculty, staff and students of K-State,
Did you know that pending legislation in our state would legalize discrimination against members of our community who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender? Did you know that it would require K-State to remove protections for LGBT individuals from its long-standing policy?
Senate Bill 142 (substitute for House Bill 2260) is the “Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom” bill. On March 29, the Kansas House of Representatives approved this bill 91 to 33. The bill was amended in the House and must now go back to the Senate for additional debate and vote. Although the bill’s title suggests that it is about the preservation of religious liberties, in truth it would legalize discrimination.
SB142 basically says that if a local ordinance protects a group of people from discrimination that is not protected by the state or federal government, a person may use their religious belief as a basis for discrimination. The bill targets policies and ordinances that protect LGBT individuals. The bill also voids protections for individuals based on military status, as this is not a protected class by the state or federal government.
Clearly, this bill is not about protecting religious beliefs, but is a thinly-veiled disguise to legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals. However, there is no way to prove true belief, thus all a person has to do is state it is against their religious belief and the discrimination becomes legal.
K-State has a wide-reaching policy of inclusion and non-discrimination because we all know that in order to have a community of the best administrators, faculty, staff and students we must embrace our diversity and treat all people equally (see the University Handbook, Appendix J, Section II, Part A, k-state.edu/academicpersonnel/fhbook). SB142 would void all non-discrimination ordinances that exist in towns, organizations and universities all across Kansas. Senate Bill 142 undermines our basic human dignity and as a result will negatively impact our ability to grow and prosper as an institution of higher education.
Senate Bill 142 is not law yet, it will be reintroduced into the Senate for a second round of debate and vote on April 25, so there’s still time to act. Contact your state senator. Tell him or her you believe in equality for all and do not want them to support SB142. Voice your support of the LGBT community at K-State and in Manhattan. The Little Apple Pride Parade and Celebration on Saturday, April 21 is just days before the State Senate goes back into session.
Spread the word and take action now.
Theodore J. Morgan, assistant professor of biology, Michael Herman, professor of biology, and 54 others
To view the full list of 56 signatures, go to morganlab.blogspot.com.