LGBTQ students, activists are suing the Department of Education for providing Title IX funding to religious colleges

A group of LGBTQ activists has filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Education claiming the agency is paying federal funds to universities with discriminatory policies.

According to The Greenville News, the lawsuit states that Title IX policies strictly prohibit educational institutions from discriminating against anyone based on their gender or sexual orientation. However, Title IX leaves a loophole for some schools that allows them to implement more selective admission policies under the guise of religious exemption.

According to NBC News, the lawsuit was filed by the Religious Exemption Accountability Project on behalf of several dozen LGBTQ students and activists, some of whom say they have been emotionally traumatized by discriminatory practices in predominantly Christian universities.

Lucas Wilson told NBC News that he chose Liberty University, a Christian college, after seeing an ad for students “struggling with same-sex attraction.”

“Ultimately, the biggest factor I chose Liberty was because of the conversion therapy program because I actually believed you could become straight,” said Wilson.

Wilson received “conversion therapy” at Liberty University for four years.

Since graduating, he has viewed Liberty as a “thoroughly homophobic institution”. In addition to conversion therapy, Liberty allegedly offered a variety of courses dealing with the “evils of the homosexual lifestyle.”

Hammer rests on open book; Image by Verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

Going into conversion therapy and being enveloped in Liberty’s oppressive atmosphere, “heightened and amplified feelings of self-hatred, feelings of shame and guilt, and anxiety that ultimately took years to deconstruct.”

NBC News notes that many Christian colleges like Liberty are eligible for and receive federal funding because Title IX contains a clause that excludes religious schools from their non-discrimination dictation based on gender and sexual orientation.

However, Wilson and his co-plaintiffs now say the religious exemption is unconstitutional, effectively allowing the Department of Education to “violate its duty to LGBTQ students in institutions” where sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination is codified on campus Politics and practiced openly. “

Paul Southwick, the director of REAP, said the main argument in the lawsuit was that the federal government “cannot pass laws or take action that targets a politically unpopular group”.

“As for the religious exception to Title IX, is that it is really aimed at people who are gender based, including sexual orientation and gender identity, for inferior treatment,” Southwick said.

Southwick noted that while many people would wonder why LGBTQ students would attend conservative Christian colleges, there nonetheless compelling reasons.

For example, many LGBTQ students come from hardcore or fundamentalist Christian families.

“The natural consequence of this is that many of them – gay or straight – end up in Christian colleges. When they are there, they are treated inhumanely and exposed to these dangerous and abusive policies and practices,” Southwick said.

In response to news of the lawsuit, the Department of Education told Greenville News that it intends to uphold President Joe Biden’s executive order, which guarantees “an educational environment free of discrimination,” including discrimination based on “sexual orientation or gender identity.”


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