March 5, 2010 at 2:09 pm EST | by Harley Dennett
Va. colleges told to strike LGBT anti-discrimination policies

Public colleges and universities in Virginia may be forced to remove LGBT anti-discrimination protections after the state’s attorney general ruled such policies invalid.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wrote Thursday to all presidents and rectors of state institutions, saying they had insufficient authority to treat sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as a protected class in non-discrimination policies.

“Virginia’s public universities are, at all times, subject to the rule of the General Assembly,” says Cuccinelli’s four-page letter.

He also notes in the letter that “the General Assembly has on numerous occasions considered and rejected creating a protected class defined by ‘sexual orienation’, ‘gender identity’ or ‘gender expression’. Lacking this clear authority, no state agency can reach beyond the boundaries established by the General Assembly.”

Citing Gov. Bob McDonnell’s recent removal through executive order of state anti-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation, Cuccinelli says the public policy must be consistent across the branches of government.

“I am aware that several Virginia colleges and universities have included ‘sexual orientation’ in their respective policies. For the reasons stated, any college or university that has done so has acted without proper authority.

“Such invalid policies create, at a minimum, confusion about the law and, at worst, a litany of instances in which the school’s operation would need to change in order to come into conformance.”

Cuccinelli says the institution boards must amend their policies to remove LGBT protections to conform with Virginia’s public policy.

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