Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik introduced the Freedom of Association in Higher Education Act to protect the rights of students to join single-sex organizations in higher education.

“I will always stand up for Constitutional rights across America and on college campuses, where they are under threat," Stefanik said. "I am proud to lead the effort to protect single-sex organizations on college campuses, so they can continue to thrive and support our next generation of leaders. All college students, including those from New York’s 21st District, should have the opportunity to join communities that help them flourish and grow, but this is undermined when students in single-sex organizations can be discriminated against purely because they joined these organizations. My legislation will protect students’ rights to free association and uphold access to the unique and supportive environments that can be fostered through single-sex organizations.”

Single-sex organizations have been singled out for unequal treatment compared to the rules imposed on other student groups and sports teams on college campuses, including at Harvard. These rules include trying to force organizations to become co-ed against their will, take inappropriate control of organizations' membership selection processes, and impose collective sanctions on thousands of students in a larger organization’s community to punish the conduct of a few students.

Specifically, the Freedom of Association in Higher Education Act will:

  • Preserve Student Choice by protecting students’ ability to choose the organization they want to associate with and prohibiting discrimination against students who join single-sex organizations purely because of the organization’s single-sex status.
  • Provide Equal Treatment for all Student Organizations by ensuring universities cannot unfairly impose operational policies or restrictions on single-sex organizations, including on the timing of recruitment.
  • Protect Single-Sex Spaces on and off campus by allowing single-sex organizations to define their own membership criteria. Women-only and men-only spaces often provide unique and supportive environments, and single-sex organizations should not be punished for cultivating these spaces.

Stefanik was joined by Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) in introducing this legislation. 

Read full text of the legislation here.