Friday, July 25, 2014

Two more religious exemptions

Spring Arbor University and Simpson University have both asked for and been granted Title IX exemptions based on religious grounds from the Department of Education. This means that the Michigan and California schools will be allowed to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.
George Fox, as we have written about, also received a religious exemption after asking for one that would allow them to deny housing (all of which is sex segregated) to a transgender student.
Are we seeing a pattern here?
The DOE is saying there is very little it can do about religious exemptions. But what standards are being applied when assessing a request for religious exemption?
A representative from Spring Arbor University has said that the school is "Christ-centered." But what does that mean? They say they are affiliated with the Methodist Free Church. But what kind of affiliation creates a case for exemption?
Spring Arbor has already dealt with this issue after keeping from the classroom a professor who transitioned while working for the school. There was an EEOC complaint that the university settled in 2007 (unclear what the settlement entailed).
Simpson is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. The latter's website lists the school as one of six "education centers." I imagine the other schools will also be asking for exemptions.
The term affiliation needs to be clarified--what is the difference between affiliation and control?--as do the criteria for religious exemptions--or at least made more transparent.