A couple of years ago, some Georgia Tech students filed suit against the trade school--er, I mean great institution of higher learning--on North Avenue on a number of grounds. Well, a federal judge has issued what looks like his final ruling in this case. The two big findings deal with Tech’s "Safe Space" program (regarding GBLT students) and its administration of its student activities fee. The manual for the former contains a number of passages that appear to criticize religious groups that regard homosexuality as a sin. Turns out that that violates the First Amendment. Good for the judge, bad for Tech.
The administration of the student activities fee poses more complicated problems, partly because whoever the legally responsible parties are, the plaintiffs didn’t, in this case, sue them. The judge does give lots of free legal advice (yes, it’s all dicta, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong) to the folks at Tech (some of whom appear rather clueless when it comes to First Amendment speech and religion issues).
The bottom line: to the degree that this particular skirmish in the culture war implicates religious questions, the university as a public institution can’t take sides. Some people seem to think that this decision squelches debate, but there remain plenty of opportunities for GLBT students and supporters to promote their point of view. The only thing they can’t do is call in Big Brother to criticize their opponents on religious grounds.