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UNC student organization booted member for being gay


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http://www.dailytarheel.com/index.php/a ... tian_group

The University will investigate whether or not the Christian a cappella group Psalm 100 violated UNC’s non-discrimination policy in dismissing senior Will Thomason, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said.

On Sunday, members of Psalm 100 unanimously voted to remove Thomason, who is gay, for his views on homosexuality. He had been a member of the group since his freshman year.

“We are on notice that there is a question as to whether or not a student organization has acted in compliance with the policy or not,†Crisp said. “We take that very seriously and that will be investigated.â€

Blake Templeton, general director of the group, said Thomason was not removed for his sexual orientation but for his opinions about homosexuality. He said the views clash with the ideology of the Bible, which the organization’s constitution mandates members must uphold.

Psalm 100 is a student organization that receives student fees and is bound by the University’s non-discrimination policy. Between Feb. 17 and June 30, Psalm 100 received $152.20 in student fees.

The policy states that groups may limit membership to those who share the beliefs of that group but cannot exclude members based on personal characteristics, including sexual orientation.

“Our commitment to non-discrimination is bedrock strong but so is our commitment to the First Amendment rights of freedom of association,†Crisp said. “The non-discrimination policy for student organizations tries very hard to balance those issues.â€

He said if an organization does not comply with the policy, it must change or face losing University recognition.

“We’re going to take the time that is necessary to thoroughly investigate the issues before we draw any conclusions,†Crisp added.

Zealan Hoover, student body vice president, said he has asked the student solicitor general to prepare a legal brief and the student body treasurer to prepare a list of the funds allocated to the group. The two will report to the executive branch tonight.

“We’ll be discussing how we want to respond,†Hoover said.

Jon Curtis, associate director of student activities and organizations, said the unusual nature of the situation makes crafting a plan of action difficult. He added that he has not received a formal complaint against Psalm 100.

Templeton said he acknowledged that the University has the right to investigate any group on campus.

He said he was worried that the decision has been perceived incorrectly.

“This isn’t a salvation issue, and it’s not Psalm 100 saying whether or not Will Thomason is a Christian and whether or not he’s going to go to heaven,†he said.

“I’ve gotten approached about that and that’s not the case at all.

“The decision was really about honoring the (group’s) constitution that the University approved of,†he said.

Terri Phoenix, director of the UNC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Center, said there was not enough information to know if it was a case of discrimination.

“I feel confident that the University is going to do its due diligence in making sure that the policy was adhered to, and if they find that it was not adhered to they will take the appropriate action,†Phoenix said.

Thomason said he still enjoys a strong friendship with members of the group.

“I’m especially appreciative of the willingness of the larger UNC community to openly engage in the dialogue and I trust there will be continued respect for all parties involved,†he said.

Here's a blog about it too... You guys should get a kick out of this. I know I sure did. :?


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I'm confused. The headline says they did this for him being gay, and the article said they did this for him thinking it's OK to be gay. Which is it? Also IS he gay and thinks it's OK to be gay, or is he not gay and thinks it's OK to be gay? Is it more or less threatening for the gay guy or the straight guy to think it's OK to be gay?

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Yeah, it's confusing. I'm inclined to think that it's really because he's gay but they can't boot him for that, so they say it's because of his beliefs. If a guy slept with guys but believed what he was doing was wrong, would he be able to stay?

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Pretty interesting position, actually, which both joykins and rachel point out. Think it will turn on the exact wording of the group's constitution.

Not sure UNC should give student money to a religious group, but the Supremes already ruled on that one, I think.

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I think UNC will probably try to walk a middle approach on this one. It's a tough position for the university -- if they come down against the group, it's ACK!FREE SPEECH! PERSECUTION!!111!1 If they let the group off the hook, the gay community at the university is going to be pissed, which probably matters slightly less at UNC as compared with somewhere like UCLA, but it matters.

Although, I think this is just a round about way to violate the discrimination policy. By saying you must believe that being gay is wrong, you are effectively saying gay people can't belong to the group unless they are willing to publicly disclaim their own sexuality.

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Agreed that the group probably kicked him out for being gay and are trying to make it sound like they disagree with his statements/opinions. I do wonder, though, what happened between the time he joined the group 3 years ago and now. He's also in a bit of a strange position because the Psalm 100 group is one he chose to join, even knowing that they disagreed with his sexuality.

If the group is found guilty of discrimination, I have a feeling they would face more negative backlash for being anti-gay than they would receive support for free speech rights or for religious tolerance. That might happen anyway. The DTH article makes it sound like everyone involved can remain reasonable and have a productive dialogue; hopefully that continues to be the case.

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From some of the comments in the blog section, it seems like the Psalms 100 group is/was a non-denominational in the fact that they took any and all Christian faiths. One former member posted that they even accepted faiths that it was okay for homosexuals to serve in church leadership. It sounds like they are trying to take a stricter stance in who they want in their group.

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Is there any chance that they didn't actually care so much about him being gay, but then he did something to piss off group leadership and they wanted to find a way to get rid of him? I only say this because it does seem odd that he was in the group for three years and now all of a sudden it's a problem.

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