Christian student group files suit over discrimination at University of Houston-Clear Lake
HOUSTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Christian student organization Ratio Christi filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the University of Houston–Clear Lake for discriminating against the group’s Christian beliefs by excluding Ratio Christi from Registered Student Organization status and the benefits that come with that recognition.
The university excluded Ratio Christi because it requires its leaders to agree with its values and mission. Other organizations have leadership requirements but are recognized by the university. But when Ratio Christi applied for recognition as a registered student organization, the university rejected the application and revoked its invitation to the student organization fair because Ratio Christi’s constitution requires its leaders to be Christians—not members of another faith or of no faith.
“College should be a time when students learn firsthand how the Constitution protects their right to express their opinion, as well as the opinions and views of those with whom they disagree, but that’s not what’s happening at the University of Houston–Clear Lake,” said ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton. “Instead, the university singled out Ratio Christi and its members because of their Christian beliefs, denying them recognition and equal treatment among their peer groups. It’s natural and expected that a Christian organization would require its leaders to be Christian; the university allows other organizations to have similar, commonsense leadership requirements. What we see here is university officials blatantly discriminating against Ratio Christi and banishing them from a fair, free exchange of ideas specifically because of their religious beliefs.”
“Today’s university students are the future leaders of our country, which is why it is critical that universities promote the First Amendment values that they are supposed to be teaching students,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregg Walters. “University officials must act consistently with the law to ensure that members of Ratio Christi, like all students, are treated fairly and without discrimination based on their faith. If university officials were respecting First Amendment rights, this lawsuit would not be necessary.”
Unlike other groups at the university, the students of Ratio Christi cannot reserve space, invite speakers, or access the pool of funds they paid into that is reserved for student organizations, speakers, and events because the university has excluded Ratio Christi from Registered Student Organization status.
ADF attorneys filed Ratio Christi at the University of Houston–Clear Lake v. Khator in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Murphy Klasing of Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P.C. in Houston, one of nearly 3,500 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel.
In recent years, ADF has reached successful settlements with universities in Georgia and Colorado after they agreed to change their policies to protect Ratio Christi’s First Amendment rights.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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