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How the Federal Government Can Better Protect LGBTQ Students in Religious Universities & College

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This is a cross-post from Adler University’s “The Socially Responsible Practitioner” blog.  Joshua Wolff, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, Adler University) describes his recommendations to the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education on how best to protect the wellbeing of LGBTQ students attending religious institutions of higher education where their identities are not supported. Growing social and legal acceptance of LGBTQ individuals has resulted in many of these institutions applying for exemptions from Title IX (which prohibits sex discrimination in education) due to religious convictions. In short, these institutions are able to discriminate against LGBTQ college students while still receiving taxpayer funds. The risks posed to LGBTQ students by this are great cause for concern. An excerpt is posted below. You can read the full post here.

This September, I met with staff members in the Office of Civil Rights, at the U.S. Department of Education (DOEd) in Washington, D.C. to talk about the risks posed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) students by disaffirming religious universities/colleges (DRUs). Last year, the DOEd published a list of religious colleges and universities which have applied for exemption to Title IX, which includes federal regulations against sex discrimination in colleges. These are institutions of higher education seeking to discriminate against LGBTQ students on the basis of the institutions’ religious convictions—while still collecting taxpayer dollars.

Currently, Title IX allows schools who are “controlled by a religious entity” to request exemptions to Title IX on the basis of religious beliefs which may be in conflict with federal regulations. Since Title IX was passed in 1972, requests for exemptions were generally limited to contraception concerns at Catholic schools. However, there has been a dramatic increase in Title IX exemption requests over the past 2 years in response to growing social and legal acceptance of LGBTQ people. As it currently stands, universities with Title IX exemption are allowed to:

  1. Refuse to admit or retain students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity

  2. Refuse gender-affirming housing or restrooms to transgender students

  3. Discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment

Read the rest of the post here.

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