If a proposed policy change at the University of Utah is approved, homosexuals and bisexuals would be protected from discrimination and harassment.
The university's Academic Senate Tuesday approved policy changes guaranteeing such students wouldn't be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.The proposals will now be considered by the university's Board of Trustees when it meets Monday.
Rocky O'Donovan, a university student and member of the Alliance of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Rights Advocates, said the changes were developed after campus incidents where homosexual students and faculty were subjected to both verbal and physical abuse.
If the changes are approved, such incidents against gays and lesbians can be investigated, and a resolution sought through the university's complaint process.
Exempt from the policies is the school's Reserve Officer Training Corps, because the U.S. Department of Defense says homosexuality isn't compatible with military service.
"Although ROTC classes are open to anyone, homosexuals will not be allowed to enter into contracts with the U.S. Army which will lead to federal military service," said military science professor Lt. Col. James J. Austin.
The policy changes have some support, but the proposed change passed the Student Senate by only a 34-31 vote.
"Homophobia, heterosexism and fear of difference have no place within the academy, and the rewriting of policy is a step in the direction of open communications and removal of barriers," said Kathryn Brooks, Women's Resource director, in a letter to school officials.