I really figured this to show up on AmericaBlog (I even e-mailed them), but it hasn't yet, and this is getting to be a BIG story here in Kentucky, especially with the Governor getting in on the right-wing action.
It all started on April 8, when the University of the Cumberlands kicked out a student for being gay. Like all such stories nowdays, the student put some very personal information on his website at 'myspace.com'. The Baptist school found out about it, and kicked him out. The original story is here:
LOTS more below, with an AMAZING part 2 of the story!
Part of the original story says:
Johnson was apparently thrown out of school, three weeks before the end of the school year, because his declaration that he is gay on MySpace.com violated a university policy that says:
"Any student who engages in or promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles (including sex outside marriage and homosexuality) may be suspended or asked to withdraw from the University of the Cumberlands."
Jim Taylor, the university's longtime president, was attending a funeral in Atlanta and was unavailable for comment. However, he released this statement:
"At the University of the Cumberlands, we hold students to a higher standard. Students know the rules before they come to this institution. We've followed our policies and procedures in keeping with our traditional denominational beliefs.
"University of the Cumberlands isn't for everyone. We tell prospective students about our high standards before they come.
So, apparently, if you are gay, you don't meet the University's 'High Standards'.
Now comes the fun, part 1.
The University of the Cumberlands was getting ready to add a Pharmacy school to its program, and was slated to get $11 million in state funding. How is that going?
Well, see here:
The University of the Cumberlands' rule against gay students appears to put the school's hopes for a pharmacy school on a collision course with national accreditation standards that prohibit discrimination against gays.
That rule seems in direct conflict, though, with the standards of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, the only group that can accredit new and existing pharmacy schools in the United States.
The council's current guidelines require policies that ban discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, lifestyle, national origin or disability. The revised guidelines, which take effect on July 1, 2007, add "sexual orientation" as one of the prohibited types of discrimination.
Apparently, the school will keep the money. Getting accredited is another matter, and probably won't happen, although it is too soon to tell.
The sponsor of the University of the Cumberlands pharmacy project, Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said the University of the Cumberlands is accredited overall with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and that he was sure its pharmacy school would become accredited, too.
Meanwhile, Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, said yesterday the University of the Cumberlands should return the state money because the university's anti-gay policy conflicts with national accreditation standards.
"I'm calling upon the University of the Cumberlands at this point to voluntarily forgo taking the $11 million," Stein said.
She voted for the budget but said she opposed discrimination.
Williams called Stein "an embittered person" and a "flaming liberal" who "has a personal vendetta about anything that I am associated with."
Incidentally, Kathy Stein is a great state senator, and I'm proud that she comes from Lexington. Amazingly, she keeps getting reelected even though she would be termed fairly liberal. Good for her!
Anyway, I promised a part 2, and here it is:
Gov. Ernie Fletcher declared yesterday "Diversity Day," then cut from the state government's employment policy a provision that explicitly protected gay workers from being discriminated against.
That's right. The Gov declared Tuesday, April 11 'Diversity Day', and celebrated by cutting back on diversity in the state government. Only in Kentucky.
The move prompted criticism from a gay Republican group as well as Democratic lawmakers, who called it short-sighted for Fletcher to remove "sexual orientation and gender identity" from a list of characteristics the previous administration sought to shield from discrimination. They also pointed out the irony of making that change on a day meant to celebrate Kentuckians' diversity.
Irony? Daffy Duh.
Ok, tell me again why ANY gay person would become a Republican?
Rep. Joseph Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, said Fletcher's decision to remove sexual orientation was a "good political move" for the Republican governor because it would please the base of loyal GOP voters.
"There's no question that any governor or any politician needs to have his base strongly behind him before he embarks on an election campaign," Fischer said, noting that many Republicans in Northern Kentucky would probably approve of the move.
"I don't see any downside to the governor taking sexual orientation out," he said.
Yeah, no downside in Kentucky. However, Fletcher has always held the right-wing base in Kentucky, no matter how bad he is (and he is TERRIBLE). Now, he is merely getting rid of the gay Republicans. I really can't see him winning in 2007 at this point.
"It is our diversity that gives us strength," Fletcher told the crowd.
A truly truly Orwellian statement if ever there was.
This story is on the cusp of being a national story. Today it was the top two stories in the Lexington Herald-Leader. What will it be next week?
[update] changed the title from 'outs' to 'ousts', which is what I *meant* to write, and is more accurate.