This carve-out was little-known before 2015, when a report from the Human Rights Campaign noted that dozens of faith-based schools had asked the federal government for waivers confirming they need not comply with parts of the statute.More than 253 exemptions, including for East Texas Baptist University and Howard Payne University, had been granted by 2016.When Ryan Clements, a 25-year-old alumnus of Abilene Christian University, found out his alma mater was planning to ban some students’ same-sex dating relationships, he said it “hit home in a big way.” Clements, an openly gay Christian, said he felt pained “that a school that I loved and that gave me so much and that I tried to pour myself into when I was there would take this kind of action against students like me.” The private college in West Texas, affiliated with Churches of Christ, said earlier this month it would bar student employees from dating people of the same sex.The policy already applies to faculty and staff at Abilene Christian.Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Perhaps it goes without saying — but producing quality journalism isn't cheap.At a time when newsroom resources and revenue across the country are declining, The Texas Tribune remains committed to sustaining our mission: creating a more engaged and informed Texas with every story we cover, every event we convene and every newsletter we send.
“Societal norms change and adjust,” said Phil Schubert, president of Abilene Christian, which enrolls about 5,000 students.
"Whether you can legally do it or not, we're going to call you out on it." Clements said the members of his Facebook group, now numbering more than 1,400, hope to change Abilene Christian's policy through dialogue, not protests or threats.
“We were not sitting in those meetings with the senior leadership team, so we're not just going to assume what their intentions are,” he said.
Augustine-Adams said no waiver has ever been denied and that the ones issued serve as a kind of “formal assurance” that documents schools' exemption.
Abilene Christian has no plans to apply for a waiver.