Sunday, April 21, 2013

Apr. 21, 2013 :: GC Non-Discrimination

I am compelled to share this in my last weeks as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown College. If you feel compelled to sign this petition too, visit the Scott County Kentuckians for the Commonwealth Facebook page.

A petition/letter to the Board of Trustees.

Overview +

We support Georgetown College's acknowledged commitment to diversity and advocate for creating an environment where all are welcomed, valued, and protected equally.

The Non-Discrimination Work Group at Georgetown College respectfully requests that the Board of Trustees revisit the faculty non-discrimination policy. This group is a gathering of students, faculty, and staff who address challenges concerning fairness, diversity, and equality in the campus community. We support Georgetown College’s acknowledged commitment to diversity and advocate creating an environment where all are welcomed, valued, and protected equally.

In particular, we believe it is imperative to align Georgetown College’s policy with its practices concerning non-discrimination. We are proud of the College’s public commitment to diversity as articulated on our Diversity Home Page: “Georgetown College is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive community by respecting and appreciating individual differences and commonalities. Diversity creates a holistic learning environment that prepares our students to be empowered, informed and responsible citizens for our local and global communities.” And we praise the College for establishing a Diversity Committee “to identify critical diversity issues in the Georgetown community and to recommend strategies for addressing them.” We believe that one such critical issue is ensuring that College policies protect faculty and staff from discrimination based on gender and/or sexual orientation. The current exclusion of gender and sexual orientation from the faculty non-discrimination policy conflicts with the College’s public commitment to diversity, especially since the College does not reserve the right to discriminate against gay students. This inconsistency could give the impression that we invite gay students to campus in order to “change” them.

The current policy renders our LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) faculty vulnerable to dismissal at any time, regardless of tenure status. This vulnerability curtails academic freedom as well as suppresses voices that might otherwise be supportive mentors and advocates for our LGBT students. The current policy also implies a potentially unfriendly or even hostile workplace for LGBT faculty, and it excludes them from workplace benefits, such as health insurance for their partners and families.

A broader non-discrimination policy would better reflect the College’s identity and aspirations as an intellectual community. Majorities of students and faculty surveyed last year considered accepting gay faculty appropriate to the College’s Christian mission. Our college was founded on non-sectarian principles, and since many major denominations embrace LGBT Christians, even as clergy, we believe our college should as well. Changing the non-discrimination policy would support our college’s commitment to diversity and would align us better with both public opinion and Kentucky’s business community: a 2010 poll showed 83% of Kentuckians favor protecting gender and sexual orientation in non-discrimination laws, and all of Kentucky’s Fortune 500 companies, as well as its top 25 manufacturers/support firms, have inclusive non-discrimination policies. Like these companies, Georgetown would compete better for talented employees with an inclusive non-discrimination policy.

For the professional, psychological, and financial well-being of our LGBT faculty; for the “holistic learning environment” our students deserve; and for all of us at the College who wish to work in an inclusive environment, we ask the Board of Trustees to reconsider changing the current policy. Undersigned are campus organizations that support our request, demonstrating the importance and urgency of this issue to a wide array of constituents. We also include the proposal for revision of the non- discrimination policy submitted to the Board by the Faculty Committee, after a majority faculty vote, in April 2012. Thank you for listening to us on this very important human rights issue.


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