An anti-harassment training session at a Catholic university in Wisconsin encouraged employees to report anyone they hear criticizing gay marriage to the school’s human-resources department.
A presentation at the Marquette University training featured a story about a fictional wheelchair-bound employee, “Harassed Hans,” who had been overhearing his co-workers Becky and Maria talk about “their opposition to same-sex marriage all week,” according to an article in the National Catholic Register.
“Hans is right to report Maria and Becky’s conversation,” the presentation stated, adding that he should do it “right away.”
“Even though Becky and Maria were only expressing their opinions and didn’t mean to offend, they could still be engaging in harassment. The complainant does not need to be involved in the conversation to be offended,” it continued. “Hans’ sexual orientation is also irrelevant; he does not need to be gay to be offended by his co-workers’ discussion of same-sex marriage.”
According to the Register, university spokesman Brian Dorrington told Catholic News Agency that all employees had to attend an anti-harassment training “in accordance with federal law.”
Since 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has considered discrimination based on “the belief that men should only date women or that women should only marry men” to be illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A spokeswoman for the EEOC told Catholic News Agency that “particular pejorative behavior or remarks about same-sex relationships,” such as voicing opposition to gay marriage, could be “evidence of discriminatory motivation in a termination case.”
Dorrington stated that the “teaching tools” presented in the training “do not necessarily equate to university policy,” and that harassment cases “would be reviewed on an individual basis.”
Marquette University made headlines recently over claims that an instructor told a student in her graduate ethics class that the student “did not have the right” to make comments criticizing gay marriage in the classroom, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.