Six Christian universities are now being investigated by the education department after claims they violated the rights of LGBT students arose.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating six religious schools after receiving complaints from LGBT-identifying students claiming that their rights were violated by the schools that upheld Christian teachings on sexuality, relationships and marriage. Pennsylvania's Clarks Summit University, Illinois' Lincoln Christian University, and Colorado Christian University were already being investigated by the education department. However, three more religious schools were recently added to the list, namely California's La Sierra University and Azusa Pacific University, and Virginia's Liberty University.
According to the Daily Citizen, the education department's investigation stems from a lawsuit filed by the anti-religious freedom organization, the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP) against the DOE. The lawsuit was brought forth on behalf of 33 students who were part of the LGBT community and were either enrolled in or alumni of Evangelical Christian or Mormon colleges.
The lawsuit Elizabeth Hunter et al. vs. U.S. Department of Education accused the religious schools of discrimination because they believe and practice God's teachings on sexuality, relationships and marriage. The lawsuit seeks "to put an end to the U.S. Department of Education's complicity in the abuses and unsafe conditions thousands of LGBTQ+ students endure at hundreds of taxpayer-funded, religious colleges and universities."
Christian Schools Continue to Fight for Religious Freedom
Private religious schools may apply for an exemption to the Title IX requirements from the education department and continue to receive government funds through student loans as long as the application of Title IX is "inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization." The DOE has reinterpreted Title IX, which prevents persons and entities from discriminating on the basis of sex. The government agency believes that discriminating on the basis of sex includes "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."
The original lawsuit brought forth by REAP was filed in March 2021 and has grown to include 40 plaintiffs across 20 states, including a mother and her son who was allegedly expelled for "being gay." At La Sierra University, Cameron Martinez, who is "queer" and "non-binary," complained that the school's policy follow the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine on homosexuality, which Martinez beleived is discriminating against members of the LGBT community. The same belief is held by "bisexual, non-binary, genderfluid" Jonathan Jones at Azusa Pacific University.
Conservatives Push Back Against LGBT Movement Through Laws
The cultural divide between conservatives and liberals has further widened in the last months after several states proposed laws on limiting LGBT participation in women's sports and discussions on sexuality and gender identity in classrooms. Education Week reported that soon, the court will have to answer the question, "Are school officials obligated to inform parents if students confide that they're struggling with how they feel about their gender?" as states continue to propose restrictive laws surrounding this issue.