Metro Weekly
January 31, 2013

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Wednesday that could allow student organizations at Virginia public universities to openly discriminate against potential members without fear of reprisal on an 80-19 vote, sending the measure on to the state senate. The bill, HB1617, sponsored by Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren counties), prohibits public institutions of higher education from "discriminating against a student organization or group on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical or other content of the organization or group’s speech." It also allows religious or political student organizations to determine who they may admit as members "in furtherance of the organization’s religious or political mission." The bill further prohibits public institutions such as universities from denying recognition or access to funding, space or university resources to any religious or political student organization who discriminates in who they admit as members.