EUGENE, Oregon — A lawsuit filed by former BYU students and others who attended religious universities and colleges contends that these schools violated their constitutional rights to protect sexual and gender minority students at taxpayer-funded schools.
They content that the "U.S. Department of Education is duty-bound by Title IX (the Act that prohibits sex discrimination in education) and the U.S. Constitution to protect sexual and gender minority students at taxpayer-funded colleges and universities, including private and religious educational institutions that receive federal funding."
At the heart of the is the claim that they have been harmed by policies at those universities regarding sexual morality and marriage. They content that "the U.S. Department of Education's inaction leaves students unprotected from the harms of conversion therapy, expulsion, denial of housing and healthcare, (and) sexual and physical abuse and harassment . . . ."
Title IX does include an exemption for religion, but the lawsuit states that "When taxpayer-funded religious institutions require sexual and gender minority students to hide their identity out of fear, or to behave contrary to their fundamental sexual or gender identity, the unsurprising consequences are intense pain, loneliness and self-harm.“
The Sutherland Institute issued a statement criticizing that lawsuit, stating " . . . Title IX has never been interpreted to prevent honor codes or religion classes or to require LGBT+ affirmation, and any attempt to interpret the law that way would likely run afoul of the First Amendment protections of speech and religious exercise."
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Oregon by the Religious Exemption Accountability Project.