LGBTQ activists are suing the Department of Education over the “religious exemption” in Title IX that allows Christian schools to follow their beliefs regarding sexuality.
The class-action complaint filed in federal court in Oregon by students asks the court to “declare that the religious exemption to Title IX, as applied to sexual and gender minority students, is unconstitutional.”
It calls for the department to “enforce the protections of Title IX at all taxpayer-funded educational institutions, including at those institutions that discriminate and cause harm on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.”
MinistryWatch reports the 67-page filing summarizes the “personal experiences” of 33 students who chose to attend religious schools.
It comes as Congress considers passage of the Equality Act, a proposed amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would bar discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system.
The bill would bar a boy who identifies as a girl from being denied access to girls’ rest rooms and changing facilities. It would allow the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Critics of the Equality Act argue it would create new rights for LGBTQ individuals that would supercede First Amendment rights of speech and religion.
The complaint charges the Department of Education has allowed “abuses and unsafe conditions” for LGBTQ individuals.
Among the 25 schools mentioned in the lawsuit are Liberty University, Baylor University, Bob Jones University and Fuller Theological Seminary.
The suit claims that while receiving government funding, the schools did not protect sexual and gender minority students as required under Title IX. It contends the plaintiffs suffered “injurious consequences to mind, body and soul.”
The students claim the federal government is leaving “students unprotected from the harms of conversion therapy, expulsion, denial of housing and healthcare, sexual and physical abuse and harassment, as well as the less visible, but no less damaging, consequences of institutionalized shame, fear, anxiety and loneliness.”
The complaint contends the Department of Education is “duty-bound” by Title IX and the Constitution to “protect sexual and gender minority students.”
“Religious exemptions may be constitutionally permissible, or even compelled,” the lawsuit states.
The suit asks that the “religious exemption to Title IX, as applied to sexual and gender minority students,” be declared unconstitutional, and those religious institutions be held to account for their actions “that discriminate and cause harm on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.”
One of the plaintiffs is Elizabeth Hunter, who graduated from Bob Jones University.
She states: “The campus culture at BJU is toxic for LGBTA+ people. Homophobia among the student body, faculty, and administration is rampant. LGBTQ+ students have to hide who we are and will suffer grave consequences if we come out and stand up for ourselves.”
She alleges she was disciplined at the school for refusing “to disavow her support for LGTBQ+ rights.”
The complaint notes that Title IX prohibits sex discrimination at all education institutions that receive federal funding.
“However, Title IX provides an exemption for educational institutions that are controlled by religious organizations to the extent that comply with Title IX would conflict with the religious tenets of the control organization.”
The lawsuit charges Americans are being given “disfavored treatment based on their sex, including targeting based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The case insists that “all” religious exemptions be rescinded, no further exemptions be granted and all “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” of students be given “respect” by Christian colleges.
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