NADOHE, Higher Education Organizations Announce Opposition to “Religious Freedom” Laws

In reaction to a string of recently approved and proposed “religious freedom” bills by legislatures in a handful of southern states, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) released a statement, along with three other organizations, announcing its opposition to these laws, which many say legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

NADOHE released the statement in conjunction with the American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity (AAAED); the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO); and LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education. The organizations say that these bills serve to limit the civil rights and legal protections for LGBTQ individuals.

“[We] stand firmly by the principles of fairness, equity, inclusion, and access,” the statement reads. “Laws that limit protections and have the effect of discrimination against persons on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity are contrary to these principles. We, therefore, oppose any laws which limit the civil and human rights of the [LGBTQ] community.”

In March, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a sweeping anti-LGBTQ bill that revokes protections for LGBTQ individuals and bans transgender people from using public restrooms and locker rooms that don’t align with the gender listed on their birth certificate. This legislation has since sparked a lawsuit and has caused some corporations, including PayPal, to pull business out of the state.

Several state legislatures quickly followed suit, including Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal — under pressure from both LGBTQ organizations and local corporations — vetoed similar legislation. And on Tuesday, the same day Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a “religious freedom” bill, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law controversial legislation that he said is designed to “protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions” and “prevent government interference in the lives of the people.”

Under the new law, churches, religious charities and private business legally do not have to serve people in the LGBTQ community, whose lifestyles they do not agree with.

In its statement, NADOHE, AAAED, ACAO, and LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education encouraged others to stand with them in their fight to end discrimination against LGBTQ people.

“We are extremely concerned that in contemporary society, unjust laws can target a group of individuals and deny them the rights and privileges that others enjoy,” they said. “We ask others to join us in this call for equity and to speak out against recent actions that limit the rights of others.

“We must remember, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”