By KATI WILSON
The Georgetown College faculty recently asked the Board of Trustees to expand its nondiscrimination clause in order to incorporate sexuality or sexual orientation. This would guarantee that, during the hiring process, someone could not be discriminated against because of his or her real or perceived sexual orientation. The college’s nondiscrimination policy statement at this time reads, “Georgetown College is committed to equal employment for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, citizenship (as defined under the Immigration Reform and Control Act), disability or veteran’s status.”
There is currently no federal law that distinctively makes it illegal for a workplace to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Because of this, this is a decision that can be made at the state level. About half of the states rule out sexual orientation discrimination in both public and private employment. If a state does not make this decision, it is then determined on a business-to-business basis. This is the case in Kentucky.
Dean Gambill commented, “Because Kentucky does not require that we do so, the Board of Trustees decided to avoid the potential legal exposure and deny the expansion of our non-discrimination clause.” He was sure to note, “This does not mean that the Board of Trustees intends for the college to discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.”
However, questions still arise as to the future of Georgetown’s employment opportunities. Could this verdict stop professors or other potential employees from applying to work at Georgetown when there is an opening? Would knowing that they could be turned down because of who they are give them reason to bypass Georgetown and seek employment elsewhere? Will openly gay faculty face any changes? Gambill is hopeful that this will not hinder someone from considering Georgetown but is not sure if this was considered in the decision-making process.
Many students have expressed their disappointment in this recent decision and are vocal in defending the rights of their professors.
Shakir Mackey, a senior and member of Campus Spectrum, said, “I feel as a fellow member of the LGBTQ community that this is yet another example of discrimination at work. It especially doesn’t hinder an educator’s ability to teach young minds. In fact, having queer faculty and staff would serve so many youth in need of positive examples. Everyone deserves to be protected against discrimination.”
Another member, Brian Chaffin, is disappointed and pointed out, “Georgetown College itself claims as a part of the ‘Believe’ tenant: ‘…a student is free to develop belief systems and encouraged to test them against the variety of opinions that exist in this diverse community.’ How are we to do this if the school itself isn’t willing to protect those very professors that would compose a diverse community and help make this tenant possible? I believe it is time for this institution to stand up for what is right regardless of money and the opinions of others. Justice is not a subjective matter and should not be treated as such.”
Caliesha Comley, a junior, commented, “If the Board of Trustees does not intend to discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, it should not be a problem to ensure that this form of discrimination will not happen. At face value, it seems as though (though this may not be reality) the Board is ensuring a loophole to escape negative repercussions of denying prospective faculty of the LGBTQ community employment. I’m not certain of what all is entailed by the ‘legal exposure’ that appears so threatening, but I am positive that the assurance of dignity, equality and protection to all current and future faculty members must be of more value. And valuable not just because Georgetown would like to take pride in attempts to add value to education through ‘diversity,’ but because we are an institution that should value, equally, the knowledge, contribution and humanity of all who enter our community.”
Though students and faculty alike seem disgruntled by this decision, there has been no word of a reversal of this decision in the near future.