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Though Abilene Christian’s policy goes further than some — banning same-sex dating, not just sex — they’re not the only faith-based institution that’s faced questions in recent years about how their policies fit into a changing social landscape.“Societal norms change and adjust,” said Phil Schubert, president of Abilene Christian, which enrolls about 5,000 students.But the school’s website has already been updated to say that certain student employees — those “asked to exemplify and support the university’s mission” — will be barred from dating people of the same sex, just like faculty and staff have been for years.
Shane Windmeyer, a founder of the national advocacy group Campus Pride, said religious exemptions can be "a way to discriminate against a group of people." "Just because you say that your religious faith or your religious belief doesn't allow you to have an openly LGBT person on your campus, I don't care how you say it, is discrimination," he said.
“We’ve heard from some that are upset we’re not taking a more open and affirming approach” and others who worry the school is becoming too permissive of actions “inconsistent with our theology.” Walking that tightrope has proven difficult for religious schools.
Some schools, like Baylor University and Abilene Christian, have tried to rejigger their conduct codes.
"Whether you can legally do it or not, we're going to call you out on it." Clements said the members of his Facebook group, now numbering more than 1,400, hope to change Abilene Christian's policy through dialogue, not protests or threats.
“We were not sitting in those meetings with the senior leadership team, so we're not just going to assume what their intentions are,” he said.