The University of Richmond has announced their 2012 commencement speaker: Gov. Bob McDonnell. During his tenure, McDonnell has stripped non-discrimination protection from LGBT state employees. His master thesis wrote against gays, working women and contraceptives. He recently regained media attention as the Virginia legislature conducted its “War on Women” through restrictions on abortions and birth control and required ultrasounds. He excluded any mention of slavery in his Confederate History Month Proclamation.
During the same time period, the University of Richmond adopted the Richmond Promise. Principle II of the strategic plans promised that “the University of Richmond will be a diverse and inclusive community, strengthened intellectually and socially by the range of knowledge, opinion, belief, and political perspective and background of its members, whether of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability status, age, religious, economic, or geographic origin. Students will therefore be prepared to contribute to a diverse and global society.”
Even as Gov. McDonnell stripped state non-discrimination policies, the university expanded its non-discrimination policy to include gender identity and gender expression. The university already offered protections for sexual orientation and same-sex partner benefits.
Many students and student organizations disagree with the announcement. Some feel it is another repeat of the 2010 fiasco when the Jepson School of Leadership awarded Victoria Cobb of the homophobic Family Foundation. Student leaders have commented that they are forming a collective response.