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It follows years of discussion and fits into the school’s broader attempt to be more inclusive, he said.
The student handbook will be revised over the summer to clarify that students who aren’t employees are free to be in same-sex relationships so long as they’re not sexually active — the same expectation the school has for heterosexual students who are not married.
The religious exemptions have been used to exclude “women from particular courses of study that are designed to further priesthood or ordination” or to offer different counseling for male and female students about their career trajectories, said Kif Augustine-Adams, a law professor at Brigham Young University.But the school’s website has already been updated to say that certain student employees — those “asked to exemplify and support the university’s mission” — will be barred from dating people of the same sex, just like faculty and staff have been for years.“Our goal here is not to place an undue restriction on students,” Schubert explained, “but we're recognizing that employees, we believe, are asked to do something different in terms of carrying out the mission of the institution and delivering the educational experience that we're offering." For students filling resident assistant roles, or others that are public-facing, it’s important that they “live a lifestyle that is consistent with the values that we espouse at Abilene Christian,” he said.But LGBT-rights advocates and some students say the ban still amounts to discrimination.Shane Windmeyer, a founder of the national advocacy group Campus Pride, said religious exemptions can be "a way to discriminate against a group of people." "Just because you say that your religious faith or your religious belief doesn't allow you to have an openly LGBT person on your campus, I don't care how you say it, is discrimination," he said.