Paul L. Caron

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Samford University Denies Student Application To Form Cumberland Law School LGBTQ Group

Update:, Samford University Refuses to Recognize Cumberland Law School's LGBTQ+ Group as Official Organization, Samford University Denies Student Application to Form LGBTQ Group:

When Angela Whitlock, a Cumberland Law student at Samford University, was looking for student groups to join last year, she noticed something was missing.

There were groups for Black, Hispanic and Native American law students, student athletes, women, and various political organizations. But none were for LGBTQ students.

So last fall, she and more than 50 students at Cumberland formed OUTLaw, an identity-based organization that aims to support and affirm LGBTQ students.

“We just tried,” she said, “Because why not? There’s nothing that we’re doing that is going to hurt anyone.”

OUTLaw chapters are currently present on other Alabama college campuses and across the country, but Samford, which houses the private, Christian law school, refuses to acknowledge the organization – and has denied others like it in the past.

“It’s not shocking because it’s more of the same of what we’ve seen, insofar as discriminatory practices,” said Brit Blalock, a 2008 graduate who leads Safe Samford, an unofficial group supporting LGBTQ students. “But what’s particularly strange about this is it’s happening inside the law school, which has not been bound to the same student organization process that the undergrads have.”

In a letter on Oct. 20, Samford President Beck Taylor informed Whitlock that the university had formally denied her application. ... "[E]xtending official university recognition to a student organization that advocates for beliefs and behaviors contrary to the religious values of Samford would be inconsistent with my responsibilities as president.”

The letter, Whitlock said, came after a meeting between OUTLaw members and the administration, in which Taylor allegedly said he feared that allowing the group to exist would invite future opportunities for LGBTQ students to “advocate for a larger agenda” that the university is “simply not willing” to allow.

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