Home/Rod Dreher/Erroneous Christian Schools Have No Rights

Erroneous Christian Schools Have No Rights

Now that gay marriage is here, you didn’t think that would be the end of things, did you? The Column reports on colleges and universities that have sought, and in most cases received, religious exemptions from Title IX requirements. The story frames these schools as bigot colleges (“Training schools to discriminate”). Excerpts:

Nearly three dozen religious institutions of higher learning have asked the federal government to waive laws that protect LGBT students, according to government documents obtained by The Column. The schools are asking the U.S. Department of Education to waive portions of Title IX that might apply to students and staff who are transgender or who are in same-sex relationships. Twenty-seven schools have been granted a waiver from Title IX by the department in the last year, many with the help of conservative religious organizations. Another nine have applications pending.

When Title IX was passed in 1972 to combat discrimination based on sex, Congress added a small but powerful provision that states that an educational institution that is “controlled by a religious organization” does not have to comply if Title IX “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”

These “right-to-discriminate” waivers were relatively rare until the last year. A handful were requested in the 1980s and 1990s, many by religious schools who wanted to ensure they could prevent women from being hired in leadership roles without running afoul of discrimination laws.

That changed in 2014 when the Obama administration issued guidance that the Title IX discrimination prohibition “extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity,” meaning that entities receiving federal funding could not discriminate against transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Which is why these traditionalist Christian schools are seeking the exemption. But according to LGBT activists, these religious colleges must not be allowed to get away with it:

“The trend of religiously affiliated, but publicly financed, colleges receiving exemptions from the U.S. Department of Education in order to discriminate against LGBTQ students and employees is disturbing,” attorney Paul Southwick told The Column. “While we are seeing increased protections for transgender, intersex and LGB students through Title IX, we are also seeing the protections of Title IX gutted at the very institutions where students need those protections the most.”

Southwick has represented students who have filed action against Christian schools after having been expelled for being LGBT.

For students that do find themselves being disciplined or expelled from a college or university simply because of their LGBT identity, there are actions those students can take.

“First, if there is still time, students should file an internal appeal of any decision to expel, suspend or discipline them,” he said. Most institutions have an appeal process, but Southwick notes that some students may want to hire a lawyer for assistance with appeals.

“Additionally, students should file a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Southwick said. “This is important and should always be done. Even if their college has a religious exemption from Title IX, the exemption may not apply or it may not stick after being challenged.”

He also suggests that students file a complaint with accreditation institutions, and to check state and local nondiscrimination laws.

According to another LGBT activist:

“Discrimination is never okay,” Windmeyer told The Column. “For these schools to espouse that their religion sanctions discrimination against any young person is careless and life-threatening. This list needs to be made public every time a school files for a Title IX exemption. It is shameful and wrong.”

He said exposing schools that apply for the Title IX exemptions is important for families and prospective students. “Families deserve to know that this list of schools are not loving, safe spaces for any young person to live, learn and grow — and taxpayers should definitely not have to pay for a private college to openly discriminate against anyone.”

Read the whole thing. You had better, so you can know what’s coming.

Notice what’s happening here. That second activist describes attempts by religious colleges to continue to run their schools by the tenets of their religion as “life-threatening” — an outrageous piece of rhetoric that is par for the course with LGBT activists, who often claim that any resistance at all to whatever they’re asking for this week is tantamount to a death sentence.

Second, the activists quoted are not satisfied to live and let live. LGBT students have every right to know what the policies of various colleges are regarding their status, before they apply. And if they disagree with it, well, don’t go to school there. There are roughly 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States. The number that have asked for Title IX exemptions amount to .0075 .75 percent of the total. And yet, that is too much for these activists to tolerate.

Error has no rights. It is not enough for these bullies to win; every single one of their opponents, no matter how tiny and weak, must lose.

No realistic person expects a school that chooses to stand on traditional Christian teaching with regard to its LGBT policies to escape public criticism. But they ought to be left alone to live out their own religious vision — if the First Amendment matters, that is. If not, well, let’s get that learned.

I want every presidential candidate on the record about what he or she thinks about Title IX exemptions for religious schools and colleges. What they say tells us all something important about how much they respect religious liberty.

Remember our old friend the Law of Merited Impossibility (“It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it”)? Well, I told you so.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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