Discrimination Policy Under Fire

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Last year the American Philosophical Association implemented a rule that would flag job postings at any colleges that had anti-bias policies not in line with the association’s own. Calvin College, a liberal arts school in Grand Rapids, Michigan affiliated with the evangelical Christian Reformed Church, is the first school targeted under the APA bias rule. Members of the APA are now circulating a petition to try and get Calvin College to include homosexuality in its list of protected characteristics. According to the petition:

Calvin College enjoys the dubious honor of being the first institution identified by the APA in its new policy of flagging those institutions that refuse to honor the non-discrimination statement.

One might puzzle over a form of Christianity that is committed to the inequality of people, and in particular of job applicants for positions in philosophy. More disturbing, however, is the stigma Calvin College feels entitled to place upon those who are doubly exposed: as lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgendered in a society that has yet to accept them, and as people seeking jobs during difficult economic times.

Calvin College now has a reasonably compassionate, though somewhat tortured, explanation about the matter:

While the orientation seems usually to lie outside the scope of an individual’s will, by God’s power and grace, behavior lies within it. All people, gay and straight, are responsible for their actions, sexual or otherwise. It is the position of the church, and by extension, Calvin College, that sexual activity belongs exclusively within the covenant of (heterosexual) marriage.

Like many evangelical schools, Calvin requires faculty to be members in good standing of its affiliated church.

Calvin College’s current anti-discrimination policy “prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation or other characteristics protected by federal, state or local statute or ordinance.” (Italics added)

The APA’s anti-discrimination policy “rejects as unethical all forms of discrimination based on race, color, religion, political convictions, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification or age.” (Italics added.)

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer