CCC considers clause to protect gays

September 23, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

The Carroll Community College Senate is urging the trustees to add protection for homosexuals and bisexuals in the college's nondiscrimination clause.

College materials, such as the catalog of courses and student handbook, say the school will not discriminate based on age, religion, handicap, ethnicity or sex.

Members of the senate, which includes faculty, staff and students, voted 7-4 on Sept. 9 to ask the trustees to add "sexual orientation."

While federal laws offer protection for the other categories, they do not offer it for sexual orientation. Although some states have gay-rights laws, Maryland does not.

But supporters of the change say a college should lead the way.

"I'm in favor of it," said senate President Ralph Wood, a math instructor. "I just think an educational institution should go as far as it can to proclaim its openness to all groups.

"This group is certainly a large and identifiable group," Mr. Wood said. "They have been subject to discrimination in this society."

Last year, the words "sexual orientation" were added to college materials. But when county attorneys pointed out that the addition had never been approved by the Board of Trustees, it was deleted.

Several students and faculty members wanted the protection restored. At a June faculty meeting, members asked the senate to recommend that the board add the wording.

Also in support for the change, the Student Government Organization added sexual orientation to all the nondiscrimination language on its own materials, which are not subject to board approval.

The Board of Trustees discussed the issue Wednesday night in a closed session with a county attorney, but it has made no decisions, Chairwoman Barbara Charnock said.

The issue could come up at next month's meeting, but any proposed changes in policy would then have to wait 30 days before the trustees could vote.

Despite the closed session Wednesday and others since May, the board's discussion has apparently not gone into detail on trustees' concerns about such protection.

"We haven't really voiced some of those things," Ms. Charnock ** said.

She said the trustees want to gather more information on what other colleges and state institutions are doing, how people in the college feel about adding the protection and anything else they can learn.

Before the trustees went behind closed doors to discuss the matter, Mr. Wood gave them a copy of national research conducted by a Towson lawyer, Kathleen Leslie, who is a niece of an English instructor at the college.

The search turned up only one current lawsuit related to bias over sexual orientation, Mr. Wood said. It is a case in which an employee is suing Rutgers University for insurance benefits for a domestic partner.

The work is a little more than the senate usually does for a proposal, but Mr. Wood said members believed it was necessary to back up their resolution with facts.

"I know they're dealing with the issue in executive session, and I felt I was the only one who'd be presenting the kind of information I gave," Mr. Wood said.

Research by members of the senate showed other colleges that include protection from discrimination for sexual orientation include Western Maryland College, Towson State University, Frostburg State University, Howard University, University of Maryland, Goucher College, Old Dominion University, and community colleges in Montgomery, Howard and Charles counties.

Essex Community College also has such protection, and Catonsville Community College is considering it, Mr. Wood said.

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