The vice-president of Crandall University said the institution, which receives some public funding, has the right to hire staff based on their sexual preferences.
Crandall University, a Christian liberal arts school in Moncton, is being criticized for enforcing an anti-gay policy.
But Seth Crowell said the school was given the right in 1983 to educate based on its beliefs.
'Be sexually pure, reserving sexual intimacy for within a traditional marriage between one man and one woman' —Crandall University Moral Code for staff
"Within that act of the legislature, there's a sub-clause that says Crandall University — at that point Atlantic Baptist College — has the opportunity to grant degrees to students with a viewpoint that is Christian," he said.
"In the confines of a faith community, of a religious community, it has that jurisdiction."
Crowell said that includes requiring staff to follow Christian values behind closed doors.
The school's moral code for staff clearly requires employees to "be sexually pure, reserving sexual intimacy for within a traditional marriage between one man and one woman."
A previous version of the code specifically banned staff from participating in homosexual activity, but Crowell said that was changed two years ago.
"The board of governors made an adjustment to try to convey that this isn't an attack against anybody but a statement in terms of a faith position," said Crowell.
Future student backs out
The policy came as a shock to Jillian Duplessie, who planned to begin the bachelor of education program in 2013.
Duplessie said she wasn’t comfortable studying where gay people are excluded.
"If I had a student that felt isolated, I would be devastated if they felt they couldn't turn to me because they found out about Crandall on my record," she said.
Duplessie has revoked her acceptance to the school and she said she will go to a university that better fits her values.
Crowell said Duplessie’s decision is unfortunate.
He said students are encouraged to defend their opinions. But he said that doesn’t mean the board of governors will change the policy.
Public funding questioned
Crowell is also defending public funding that goes to the school.
He said the money goes to job incentives and covers functional expenses.
"One can understand that in the simplicity of it, public dollars going to a private institution can seem a little bit off," he said on CBC’s Information Morning Moncton.
"At the same time, I'm sure your listeners understand that part of what the government does is it provides support to a full range of societal fabric, which includes a lot of organizations of faith."