Thursday, April 01, 2021

LGBTQ+ Students Challenge Title IX Religious Institution Exemption

In a class action lawsuit filed earlier this week in an Oregon federal district court, 33 LGBTQ+ students enrolled at religious colleges that receive federal financial assistance challenge the constitutionality of the exemption in Title IX for educational institutions controlled by religious organizations.  The exemption applies if the non-discrimination provisions of Title IX would conflict with the organization's religious tenets. The complaint (full text) in Hunter v. U.S. Department of Education, (D OR, filed 3/29/2021) alleges that the Department of Education's refusal to enforce non-discrimination provisions against religious colleges:

leaves 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.

Alleging equal protection and Establishment Clause claims, plaintiffs contend:

[W]hile the statutory religious exemption to Title IX may permit, or even require, the Department to refuse assistance to sexual and gender minority students like the Plaintiffs, the Constitution forbids such inaction.

NBC News reports on the lawsuit.