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But LGBT-rights advocates and some students say the ban still amounts to discrimination.Shane Windmeyer, a founder of the national advocacy group Campus Pride, said religious exemptions can be "a way to discriminate against a group of people." "Just because you say that your religious faith or your religious belief doesn't allow you to have an openly LGBT person on your campus, I don't care how you say it, is discrimination," he said.It follows years of discussion and fits into the school’s broader attempt to be more inclusive, he said.

What we do want though is for the campus to be a safe space for all students.” Disclosure: Baylor University, Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors."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.” asked Clements, who is now a graduate student in New Jersey and started a Facebook group opposing the change. That you're going to have administrators walking around looking for men holding hands or women holding hands?” It could, he said, “potentially turn into a witch hunt.” Schubert said the same-sex dating ban will be enforced on a case-by-case basis and will take effect next fall.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.But while school officials say their first reaction is "not exclusion but to love," Kevin Campbell, a vice president there, said it's unclear if Title IX protects students on the basis of their sexual orientation.Further, he said Abilene Christian – like other religiously-affiliated schools – has a ready-made exemption to parts of the statute that campus leaders believe are incongruous with their faith.“We’ve heard from some that are upset we’re not taking a more open and affirming approach” and others who worry the school is becoming too permissive of actions “inconsistent with our theology.” Walking that tightrope has proven difficult for religious schools.Some schools, like Baylor University and Abilene Christian, have tried to rejigger their conduct codes.

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