http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/Empty_College_Classroom_Credit_Ryan_Tyler_Smith_via_Flickr_CC_BY_20_CNA_2_4_15.jpgSacramento, Calif., Aug 8, 2016 / 06:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Religious students from disadvantaged backgrounds could be most affected by a California bill threatening state-backed student grants to schools that disagree with same-sex marriage and gender ideology.
“The students become the greatest victims in all of this. Students growing up in your youth groups may say ‘we want to go to a school that is going to help us learn our faith while earning a degree.’ This bill would not allow that to happen,” said Prof. Kevin Mannoia, chaplain and pastoral ministry professor at Azusa Pacific University.
The proposed bill S.B. 1146 could have grave financial consequences for these students and their desired schools – and even lead to some schools’ closure.
“They wouldn’t be able to choose these schools because they wouldn’t exist,” Mannoia told CNA Aug. 5.
Azusa Pacific University is an interdenominational Christian university in California.
The state legislature there is considering a bill that could require schools to compromise their religious beliefs or face lawsuits and an end to their state grants under the CalGrant program.
The bill uses language that claims it does not prohibit institutions from various actions, but then immediately says that this purported exemption applies only under certain circumstances.
For example, only if institutions provide housing or restroom accommodations for students “consistent with their gender identity” may they reserve housing or restrooms for either male or female students. Institutions may provide separate housing accommodations for married students or students with children only if these accommodations “includes both married opposite-sex and married same-sex couples.”
Moral conduct rules and religious practices may only be enforced if they are “uniformly applicable to all students regardless of the student’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Mannoia said he thinks that that the bill has good motives to protect students. But Christian schools are already “deeply committed” to student safety and opposing hostility and discrimination.
“We work very hard at that,” he said.
The schools are also committed to their religious and moral beliefs, he continued, and this commitment is targeted by the bill.
“If a school has such policies that are built on a religious commitment to a lifestyle or a position on marriage or sexual intimacy, then the state could say we are no longer going to provide CalGrants to any institution that discloses this or says they are particularly aligned with that faith system,” Mannoia said.
Required chapel attendance, required courses in religion and the Bible, student admissions or faculty hiring based on religious identity could be targeted by lawsuits under the proposed law, he said.