Tennessee College Wins Right to Ban LGBT Students, Unwed Mothers

By Charles Diringer Dunst

Carson-Newman University is a four year, liberal arts Southern Baptist college in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

It is now also a college that has legally won the right to discriminate, based on sexual orientation and unfair, old-fashioned gendered expectations of women.

The university, at the behest of their attorney, applied for and received a Title IX exemption waiver, allowing them to bypass federal non-discrimination laws.

Title IX is a federal law which directly prohibits discrimination based on sex in higher education.

The law allows for any school “controlled by a religious organization” to seek an exemption if complying “would not be consistent with the religious tenants of such organization.”

Carson-Newman’s exemption allows the college to reject those who live in conflict with its interpretation of Christianity. This includes LGBT peoples, unwed mothers, women who have had abortions, and non-married women who may be pregnant.

The college has clarified that their usage of the waiver is not discriminatory, as it intends to “further establish our identity as a religious school.”

University president Dr. Randall O’Brien requested the exemption in a letter addressed to the federal government in May 2015.

“This is who we are as a Christian university,” he told CBS affiliate WVLT on Monday. “These are our religious principles, and in a changing world, we would like to reaffirm that this is who we are and who we intend to be.”

The university has stated that their reception of the waiver will not affect its admissions policies, at least not in the upcoming year.

When pressed by a local news tv station, President O’Brien paradoxically stated that the exemption would not lead the university to “discriminate against or students or any student applying to Carson-Newman.”

WATCH: Local TV story about Carson-Newman University Title IX waiver

The college has so far been unable to clarify exactly how they intend to utilize the waiver. It is not even clear why the university wanted to waiver in the first place, unless they intended to use it.

“You’re the president,” WVLT’s Lauren Davis noted. “You’re not going to file something unless you understand it.”

President O’Brien said in response to Davis’ assertion that the exemption would allow the school to “strengthen our position in relation to First Amendment rights. I don’t really know why something would be necessary beyond that.”

Despite their reception of the waiver, its usage is something which the university has clearly defined.

Jared Champion, Carson-Newman Class of 2003, told The Knoxville News-Sentinel that he was “absolutely humiliated by the news.”

Champion said that he believes that the exemption will impact the value of his degree as he continues his career as a college professor.

“As I move forward and put in job applications, and the like, I’m going to have to put in an addendum . . . to let them know that the values that Carson-Newman now represents are not mine,” Champion said.

The university’s attorney, Jim Guenther, has recommended the same exemption as a prudent course of action for several other Christian colleges.

Cover Photo Credit: Carson-Newman University/ Facebook

What Do You Think?


About the Author
Charles Diringer Dunst is a Government major at Hamilton College, and is scheduled to graduate in 2018. A New York City native, Dunst can be followed on Twitter @CDDUNST.

4 comments on Tennessee College Wins Right to Ban LGBT Students, Unwed Mothers

  1. John Schuh says:

    Mr, Jared Champion is rightly frightened. Today’s academia allows no deviation from its orthodoxies, This includes most of the so-called religious colleges.

    1. TXK says:

      Why the “so-called” qualifier? What is a religious college/group/society UNLESS they have standards that must be met to remain orthodox?

  2. TXK says:

    You don’t “win” a right that is already unalienably yours.

    They don’t have to ask anyone.

  3. Will says:

    Let’s see if I have this straight. Title IX, a law enacted supposedly to provide women protection on college campuses (but in reality has been used to destroy men’s wrestling programs), is now being used to protect the supposed rights of mentally ill men who dress up like women and believe they are in the wrong bodies. Our federal government is doing all this. Sad, sad, sad. Liberals truly are perpetual children, always near a tantrum. I would not be surprised to hear one of the GiBLeTs scream (with tears running down its eyes), “Love me and give me everything I demand, or I will hold my breath until I turn blue.”

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