Title IX is a federal law under which high school and college students are meant to be protected from sexual discrimination, but it has now become another means for the LGBT movement to "shame" those who seek religious liberty.
Colleges deemed to be "under the control" of a religious organization are exempted from Title IX's provisions, if they would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization. If any of the following conditions apply, a school is considered to be under the control of a religious organization, according to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR):
- It is a school or department of divinity, defined as an institution or a department or branch of an institution whose program is specifically for the education of students to prepare them to become ministers of religion or to enter upon some other religious vocation, or to prepare them to teach theological subjects;
- It requires its faculty, students or employees to be members of, or otherwise espouse a personal belief in, the religion of the organization by which it claims to be controlled; or
- Its charter and catalog, or other official publication, contains explicit statement that it is controlled by a religious organization or an organ thereof or is committed to the doctrines of a particular religion, and the members of its governing body are appointed by the controlling religious organization or an organ thereof, and it receives a significant amount of financial support from the controlling religious organization or an organ thereof.
Last month, however, the OCR released a comprehensive list of educational institutions that claimed Title IX exemptions. It was done after the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT "rights" advocacy organization, put pressure on the federal government to make the list available.
In a report titled "Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemptions Putting LGBT Students at Risk," the HRC has accused Christian colleges, in particular, of systemic discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. HRC wants the government to "do more to hold these colleges accountable."
Thus begins the "shame campaign."
"We commend the Department of Education for answering our call for greater transparency and helping to ensure no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them," HRC President Chad Griffin said after the ORC's release of the list. "The alarming and growing trend of schools quietly seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students, and not disclosing that information publicly, is what spurred our call for greater transparency. We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however, faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination."
So, what exactly does HRC want?
The organization believes that while the Department of Education has little discretion to deny Title IX religious exemptions, "religiously controlled educational institutions should not be exempt from full transparency." To that end, it has demanded the following:
- The Department of Education to require schools to publish comprehensive information about the scope of the exemption they received, the characteristics or behaviors to which the exemption applies, and the way in which Title IX still protects students;
- The Department of Education to regularly report which educational institutions have been granted Title IX religious exemptions, the scope of those exemptions, the characteristics or behaviors to which the exemption applies; and
- Congress to amend the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) governing statute to require OCR to annually report the number of Title IX exemptions that were requested, granted, and denied.
HRC wants to keep tabs on "colleges that discriminate," by virtue of claiming a Title IX exemption. It also wants to know the limits of those exemptions, which will provide it with useful information to formulate its shame campaigns against individual institutions.
And it wants the taxpayers to pay for it.
Based on the ORC's recent capitulation, it seems it's only a matter of time before that could be a reality. Title IX doesn't specifically provide protection on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but rather on biological sex only.
President Obama unilaterally issued an executive order declaring that it does.
As Andrew Walker, director of policy studies for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote Tuesday for National Review, the colleges expected a day like this might come. And that is why they have sought these exemptions, which are a part of the Title IX law.
Let's dispel the myth that LGBT students are being discriminated against: LBGT students aren't under any threat of being denied access to education, let alone at Christian schools. All that Christian schools ask is that if a student—heterosexual or homosexual—voluntarily applies to a school that has expectations for how sexuality is to be channeled, it expects these students live up to these expectations. No student is being forced to apply to Christian colleges that uphold these expectations. Nevertheless, the Human Rights Campaign wants Christians schools to lay down their Christianity on the altar of sexual freedom.
All of this points to the need to find a resolution to protect dissenters from the sexual revolution's growing power. The First Amendment Defense Act offers such a remedy by prohibiting the government from discriminating against a college on the basis of its sincerely held belief about marriage.
Christian college administrators, be on notice: The future of Christian higher education is going to require both the will and the fight to protect institutions that are simply trying to be true to their mission and identity.
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