Louisiana House passes bill barring discrimination against those unvaccinated for COVID-19

May 21, 2021

By: Kathleen Peppo | LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE — A bill to make discrimination by state entities against people based on whether or not they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 passed the House 70-29 Thursday.

The vote came as faculty members at LSU and other state universities stepped up calls to make the COVID vaccine mandatory for students and staff returning in the fall.

The difference in views illustrates how the COVID vaccinations have become a new partisan flashpoint in Louisiana and other conservative states, much like mask-wearing was earlier.

Rep. Kathy Edmondston, R-Gonzales, said she brought the bill in response to calls from constituents who feared they would be discriminated against if they did not get a COVID vaccine.

“I’ve had numerous calls over the last several months from parents, citizens, but mostly from students who have been required or mandated to take vaccines or testing, that have led me to bring this bill forward,” Edmonston said.

The LSU Faculty Senate voted 52-1 last month to call for a vaccine requirement to help protect unvaccinated staff members and students and people with compromised immune systems. The university has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday that is open to all faculty members to discuss safety issues.

The University of New Orleans Faculty Senate voted 29-0-3 last week to strongly recommend that all faculty members, staff and students get the vaccine.

Three private schools in New Orleans — Tulane University, Xavier University and Dillard University — are among more than 400 nationwide that plan to require COVID vaccinations for students returning in the fall, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education. Roughly 180 of those colleges are public institutions, mostly in Democratic-leaning states.

After the House passed the bill, Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, tweeted, “Do I have this right? Discrimination that is ok with #lalege: gender, race, hair. Discrimination that is apparently not ok: refusing a vaccine, wearing a mask, anything to do with guns.”

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