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And if such a college loses its accreditation, which would typically render it ineligible for federal loan programs, the proposed law lays out a process for the college to appeal to the education secretary to maintain its eligibility.
The bill does not mention sexual orientation or gender, but its intent is clear.
”The implications could be far-reaching, said David Stacy, the government affairs director of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group.“You’re not just talking about a little Bible college,” Mr. “When you think about Catholic universities, there are a lot of those, and quite a few of these universities would discriminate against same-sex student relationships.”The provision that particularly worries Mr.
Stacy prohibits the government from taking action against colleges — such as revoking their tax-exempt status or disqualifying their students from federal loans — for policies related to their religious mission or affiliation.
The bill passed the education committee on a party-line vote of 23 to 17 in December, giving it a good chance of passing the full House, though its prospects in the Senate, where it would need some Democratic converts, are unclear.
Lobbyists for advocacy groups supporting and opposing the measures said it was possible some would be stricken or watered down to “statements of principle” with less legal force.
Controversial speakers would have more leverage when they want to appear at colleges.
A 590-page higher-education bill working its way through Congress is a wish list for a wide range of people, groups and colleges saying that their First Amendment rights — freedom of speech, religion or assembly — are being trampled.
Religious student groups could block people who do not share their faith from becoming members.
Andreas Shleicher, head of the Pisa programme, said the picture for the UK was "stagnant at best".
"Many other countries have seen quite significant improvement," he added.
It would counteract a Supreme Court decision in 2010 that allowed the University of California Hastings College of the Law to withhold recognition from a student group, the Christian Legal Society, because it blocked gay students from having voting privileges or leadership roles.
Another provision is aimed at universities where controversial, or sometimes merely conservative, speakers have sought to appear.