Policy has no mention of 'sexual orientation'

November 17, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

The broad statement against discrimination passed by Carroll Community College trustees last night stops short of naming sexual orientation, although it names other categories such as race and gender.

"We want to make it clear that nondiscrimination is the issue, not naming the groups," said Chairwoman Barbara Charnock after the vote, which was unanimous with no discussion.

The decision, and lack of discussion, disappointed a faculty leader and student representative who were among 10 people testifying last month in favor of including the words "sexual orientation" in all statements that name other groups.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Michelle Ingram of Sykesville, president of the Student Government Organization.

"It's almost as if they didn't have any discussion. I know there will be people in this college who are very disappointed."

Ms. Charnock said after the vote that the board appreciated the input and testimony from the college Senate, student government and individuals.

"But the final responsibility . . . rests on the shoulders of the board," she said.

The new policy strengthens the nondiscrimination clause by saying discrimination on "any other basis not related to that person's eligibility or qualifications" will not be tolerated.

But most of those who spoke or wrote letters to the board wanted mention of gays and bisexuals.

Ms. Ingram said the new statement names other groups, which makes it appear to slight homosexuals and bisexuals.

Last year the words "sexual orientation" had been added to some college materials that carried the anti-discrimination statement, then later removed.

Ms. Charnock said the only reason the college names the other groups is that they are protected under federal and state law. Federal law does not specify sexual orientation as a category protected from discrimination. Although some states have such laws, Maryland does not.

"I'm disappointed," said Jody Nusholtz, president of the college's Academic Council and an English instructor.

"As an educational institution, we work very hard to be open-minded," Ms. Nusholtz said. "While the policy they passed is in no way discriminatory, there's a question as to why [sexual orientation] was removed."

Ms. Charnock said the board has discussed the issue since April in open and closed meetings.

There has been no public discussion in the last three meetings, however, after the Senate proposed returning the language and the administration drafted a formal policy.

"There must have been some discussion some time," said Ms. Nusholtz. "I would have like to have heard the discussion. I would like to know why."

College materials such as the catalog and handbook say the school will not discriminate based on age, race, religion, handicap, ethnicity or sex. Members of the senate voted 7-4 on Sept. 9 to include the words "sexual orientation" in that statement.

In the 1993-1994 academic year, the college had added "sexual orientation" to the statements, but the board had them removed for materials printed this summer when the county attorney pointed out that the board hadn't approved the addition.

Other schools that list sexual orientation in their statements include Western Maryland College, Towson State University, Frostburg State 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.

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