Staff and students at an American university are protesting a policy that stops unmarried couples staying together on school trips.

The University of St. Thomas in Minnesota enforced the rule last year when a lesbian choir member wanted to bring her partner on a school trip to France, and later when a long term couple were asked to rent separate rooms on an excursion to Australia.

Officials from St. Paul, a Catholic university, said it was not appropriate and said that Christian values should be shown when with students.

Critics of the policy are now wearing black-and-red anti-“UST discrimination” badges that show support for a gay student group. Over 130 faculty members signed a letter opposing the policy, and some faculty members showed their disapproval by missing an event where they were to be honoured.

The university says it recognises gay issues and has a gay and lesbian group on campus, however members say their group has restrictions that others do not.

University spokesman, Doug Hennes said: “We believe in diversity of people and ideas, at the same time, we need to balance that with being a Catholic university. That can create tension and can create issues such as this one.”