A California bill for LGBT students that threatened to withhold government grants from religious schools has been modified after the bill was seen as contrary to religious liberty, the Los Angeles Times reports.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) sponsored the bill to close what he viewed as a “loophole that allows private universities to discriminate against students and staff based on their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation” according to a press release. As written, SB 1146 would have required universities granted a Title IX exemption based on claims of religious freedom to disclose such information and allow individuals to pursue a remedy for perceived discrimination through a civil action.

SB 1146 hoped to compel all religious and secular colleges to provide housing for “transgendered students” in dormitories of their choice, regardless of their biological gender — or else face the threat of crippling litigation. Accommodations would also be required for restrooms and locker rooms. 

The bill also would have penalized students at institutions that hold traditional religious views on marriage and sexuality by barring them from participation in the Cal Grant program, a tuition assistance program for low-income families.

“Many of the schools that would be affected by this legislation participate in the federal government’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) initiative to expand Latino access to higher education — schools such as Azusa Pacific, Fresno Pacific, Notre Dame de Namur, among others,” wrote Archbishop José H. Gomez and Bishop Charles E. Blake of the Church of God in Christ in Angelus News.

They noted that these schools need to have student populations that are at least 25 percent Hispanic in order to qualify for the federal assistance under HSI, and that many of these Latinos are children of immigrants.

“We question why lawmakers would want to make it harder for Latinos and other minorities to receive an education by potentially denying their schools the opportunity to redeem Cal Grants,” they wrote.

“This is not fair to those students and it contradicts the state’s noble tradition of seeking to expand educational and economic opportunities for all Californians,” they added, noting that nearly 60 percent of students in Christian and nonprofit universities in the state are minorities and nearly 90 percent require financial aid.

The bill, as originally written, presented serious First Amendment rights concerns, according to the office of the president of Azusa Pacific University. “We share the senator’s concerns for student safety, transparency, and recourse, particularly for LGBT students. We want those same protections for all students,” stated their official press release.

“Sen. Lara’s bill proposes some helpful requirements that would further strengthen transparency and public disclosure at these institutions. But his legislation should stop there,” wrote Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Blake, noting that “the First Amendment and Bill of Rights were enacted to prevent precisely the kind of government interference reflected by SB 1146.”

While SB 1146 didn’t garner much coverage in the mainstream press, it faced significant resistance and lobbying from 32 universities in California by a group called Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities who opposed the legislation unless amended.

Faced with mounting opposition, Sen. Lara met with members of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities and agreed to modify the legislation, according to a Thomas Aquinas press release on Aug. 11.

Sen. Lara agreed to remove the provision of SB 1146 that sought to take away the exemption of private and religious schools to anti-discrimination laws. The amended bill that would still require the universities and colleges to disclose their Title IX exemption and report to the state whenever students are expelled for violating morality codes.

“Pending review of this new language, APU joins other faith-based institutions in moving their position from 'oppose unless amended' to 'support,'" Azusa Pacific University said in a statement.  This position is echoed by Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities and other opponents of SB 1146 as originally drafted.

Michael McLean, president of Thomas Aquinas College, a private Catholic school, said he was grateful to the other schools that joined in opposing the bill and grateful to Sen. Lara for hearing their concerns.

According to reports, Sen. Lara intends to introduce new legislation next year which may include the provisions being removed from SB 1146. Azusa Pacific University suggests supporters, “Stay informed about the progress of SB 1146 and other similar bills.”

Clara Fox contributed to this article.