News & Blog

Atheists: Do Not Let South Carolina Student Groups Discriminate

Updated: 4/02/2019

Columbia, SC—Today, American Atheists, on behalf of its more than 400 constituents in South Carolina, submitted testimony opposing to H. 3099. This controversial bill would undermine the ability of public colleges and universities to provide an open and inclusive campus and to prohibit discriminatory conduct. As written, the bill would allow for discrimination within student organizations.

American Atheists supports removing a section of H. 3099 that would allow religious, political, and ideological student organizations to discriminate. Under H. 3099, student groups could exclude students, impose dangerous rules on students, or sanction harassment.

Based on this language, for example a “College Nazi Club” could exclude Black and Jewish students, a “College Christian Club” could exclude atheists, LGBTQ students, or even Catholics, and a “Future Lawmakers Club” could exclude Republicans.

These groups could discriminate while while receiving funding and resources from taxpayers and other students at the institution.

“Although the language is framed in terms of preventing discrimination against the student organization, being required to comply with university nondiscrimination rules, like every other student organization, is not discrimination,” wrote Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy. “Creating special rules to allow these organizations to discriminate is exclusionary and unfair.”