Christian Colleges
(Nadine Stone/Shutterstock)

Department of Education Hit With Class-Action Lawsuit by LGBTQ Students Attending Religious Schools

Thirty-three students have filed a new class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that the government agency provides federal funding and support to religious schools that are then allowed to freely discriminate against LGBTQ students. The students involved in the suit say that they have faced discrimination at 25 federally funded Christian colleges and universities spread over 18 different states.

Jo Yurcaba of NBC News has reported that the class-action suit contains allegations of classes where students were taught “the evils of the homosexual lifestyle,” told to attend conversion therapy and encouraged on all levels to fight against same-sex attraction.

“The Religious Exemption Accountability Project, or REAP, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ students at taxpayer-funded religious colleges and universities, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Oregon on behalf of former and current students,” Yurcaba reported.

Pointing out the offenses that occurred during the previous administration and that the agency was moving to be more inclusive in recent months, a spokesperson for the Department of Education told the NBC reporter that the Biden administration is “fully committed to equal-education access for all students” and pointed to the executive order issued earlier this month that said, “It is the policy of my Administration that all students should be guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Still, Yurcaba added that “many Christian colleges and universities receive federal funding and are still allowed to enforce policies that, for example, prohibit same-sex relationships on campus.”

The reason? A federal civil rights law called Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination but with a caveat that exempts religious entities. The goal of this new lawsuit, in part, is to strike that religious exemption from the law.

“The students’ lawsuit argues that the religious exemption is unconstitutional and that it allows the Department of Education ‘to breach its duty’ to LGBTQ students at religious colleges and universities ‘where discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is codified in campus policies and openly practiced,’” Yurcaba reported.

In an interview with NBC, Paul Southwick, the director of REAP, said the lawsuit stems from the premise that the federal government is “not allowed to pass laws or take actions that target a politically unpopular group.”

“What the religious exemption to Title IX is doing is [targeting] people based on sex, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity, for inferior treatment,” he said.

According to Yurcaba, “[Southwick’s] argument claims that the religious exemption is unconstitutional because it violates the due process and equal protection rights afforded to LGBTQ people and it violates the establishment clause because it ‘favors certain fundamentalist religious organizations and gives them preferential treatment above all other educational institutions, including religious educational institutions that have affirming beliefs about LGBTQ people.’”


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


Latest News

woke politics

Republicans Launch a War on ‘Woke’ Politics in Hopes of Big Legislative Wins in 2022

In 2020, former President Barack Obama warned that the phrase “Defund the Police” could become a dangerous rallying cry for the conservative right. But now, Republicans have apparently taken that warning one step further, declaring war on all things “woke.” Allan Smith and Sahil Kapur of NBC News wrote that…

women in politics

Women Remain Vastly Underrepresented in Local Government, Despite Conventional Wisdom Suggesting Otherwise

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind President Biden during his first speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — representing the first time two women held such important and high-ranking political offices. Even after such a historic moment, the reality…

voter restriction

Florida Follows Georgia’s Lead, Approves Racist Anti-Voter Restrictions Aimed Primarily at Democrats and People of Color

Not content with letting Georgia be the only state in the South demonized for its bigoted and racist attacks on voter rights, Florida has jumped into the fray in issuing its own series of new and highly controversial “Jim Crow-esque” anti-voting restrictions aimed specifically at disenfranchising Democrats and voters of…

Kentucky Derby

Inspired by Protests Over Breonna Taylor’s Death, Humana and Kentucky Derby Festival Launch Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Louisville

Ahead of the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby officials and Humana (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020) have announced a new equity initiative meant to make the race more accessible and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age…

crimes against human ity

‘Crime Against Humanity’; Global Report Says the US Should Be Prosecuted in International Criminal Court for Ongoing Police Murders of Black Americans

In what has been described as a “devastating” report, human rights experts and lawyers have investigated and released a 188-page analysis of the ongoing police brutality and killing of Black Americans in the U.S. Their verdict: the country is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and should be prosecuted for its…

Tokyo, Olympics

Tokyo Olympics to Encourage Significant Increase in Gender Equality Among Event’s Corporate Sponsors

Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe. Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa…