LeTourneau University, an NCAA Division III school in Texas, has banned its gay student-athletes from dating and has banned all athletes from vocalizing support for same-sex marriage. The possible punishments listed for either "immoral" behavior includes dismissal from the athlete's team.
The school's student-athlete handbook, complete with NCAA logo, now reads:
Consistent with our desire to celebrate and model a Scriptural approach to sexuality;, the University prohibits same-sex dating behaviors and public advocacy for the position that sex outside of a biblically-defined marriage is morally acceptable.
The addition of the anti-gay language is new for the school. The student-athlete handbook from the 2011-12 academic year did not contain any reference to homosexuality. The movement by trustees and administrations to explicitly marginalize LGBT students on college campuses across the country is growing, even as students and faculty become increasingly accepting. Recent episodes at Erskine College, Hillsdale College and an unnamed Christian school in the South have been particularly troubling.
LeTourneau Univ. is an inter-denominational Christian school in Longview, Texas, an hour west of Shreveport, La. The school's enrollment is a couple thousand students.
Interestingly, the handbook also claims to stand for five principles: "Commitment, Excellence, Integrity, Respect, Community." A commitment to respect for the integrity of the LGBT community doesn't seem to be part of that equation.
The school's policy gagging student-athletes on a key public-policy issue of the day runs against the spirit of the First Amendment, something so many Texans and Christians claim to hold so dearly.
LeTourneau has a history of anti-gay efforts. The administration has brought in "ex-gay" speaker Christopher Yuan to talk about God helping people become not-gay - it's a common theme with LeTourneau speakers. One gay former LeTourneau student describes a school environment in which closeted gay students feel under constant verbal assault. LeTourneau has not been rated on the Campus Pride Index.
Of course, the school would claim it isn't discriminatory and that it applies its standard on extramarital sex to any student - gay or straight. Yet the school's position doesn't allow any gay student to get married, forbidding them from ever having sex or being intimate with any partner they might have. Forget about marriage - the school forbids its gay students from even dating anyone else.
Lest anyone think this is simply a reflection of Scripture, there is no mention of banning students from eating shellfish. The administration has selectively chosen LGBT people for targeting.
How other NCAA members allow schools with these kinds of bigoted policies to be part of the NCAA is difficult to understand.