Court sides with religious colleges in lawsuit brought by LGBTQ students
A federal court in Oregon recently dismissed a class-action lawsuit brought against the Department of Education by LGBTQ students who sought to end Title IX exemptions for religious universities.
In her decision, Judge Ann Aiken wrote, 'Plaintiffs have submitted no allegations of discriminatory motivation on the part of those enacting the religious exemption.'
A U.S. District Court in Oregon recently dismissed a class-action lawsuit brought by LGBTQ students and former students who sought to end Title IX exemptions for religious universities.
33 plaintiffs alleged “the U.S. Department of Education’s [(Department)] complicity in the abuses and unsafe conditions thousands of LGBTQ+ students endure at hundreds of taxpayer-funded, religious colleges and universities.”
“Plaintiffs ask this Court to declare that the religious exemption to Title IX, as applied to sexual and gender minority students, is unconstitutional and that the Department must enforce the protections of Title IX at all taxpayer-funded educational institutions,” the lawsuit continued.
Title IX protections, the lawsuit said, should apply to “those institutions that discriminate and cause harm on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.”
In her decision, Judge Ann Aiken wrote, “Plaintiffs have submitted no allegations of discriminatory motivation on the part of those enacting the religious exemption.”
“To the contrary,” Aiken argued, “Plaintiffs argue that when Congress enacted Title IX, protections for—or discrimination against sexual and gender minorities—were ‘of no concern.’”
The decision means that students can receive federal financial assistance while attending religious universities, which can “live out their deeply and sincerely held convictions,” according to a statement by David Cortman, the Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
The Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP) represented the plaintiffs, according to The Bulletin, the daily newspaper of Bend, Oregon. REAP describes itself as an organization that “empowers queer, trans and non-binary students at more than 200 taxpayer-funded religious schools that actively discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.”
In his statement, Cortman wrote, “A group of activists asked the court to strip that protection away from schools that educate the next generation and advance the common good.”
He continued, “The court correctly concluded that Title IX’s religious liberty exemption doesn’t violate any of the plaintiffs’ claimed rights.”
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.
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