Thursday, December 03, 2015

Article Identifies Religious Institutions Exempt from Title IX

Title IX permits religious institutions to claim an exemption for matters where Title IX's compliance conflicts with religious doctrine. In the wake of Department of Education's increasing tendency to apply Title IX to discrimination against LGBT individuals, religious institutions have increasing utilized the provision to opt out of the law's nondiscrimination mandate.  While a couple of examples had been made public, it's been difficult to find a complete list of which institutions are opting out of Title IX on religious grounds. 

Until now. Earlier this week, a news service called The Column published a complete list of religious institutions claiming exemption under Title IX, 27 of which have been approved by the Department o Education thus far. The article also exposes what appears to be a concerted effort by religious schools to utilize the exemption for the purpose of exclude LGBT students. For example, Baptist church leaders in Texas passed a resolution denouncing transgender individuals so that affiliated education institutions would have evidence of a doctrinal conflict to use in their Title IX exemption applications. The Christian Legal Society has provided training and model language for religious institutions to use in support of their applications.

Transgender individuals seem to be the primary target for exempt institutions, who cite in their applications (which are helpfully appended to the article) religious beliefs about the immutability of sex. They have been granted exemptions from regulations governing admissions (although, private undergraduate institutions already do not have to comply with Title IX's application to admissions) and regulations that could be interpreted to allow transgender individuals access to sex-segregated facilities and athletics programs in accordance with their gender identities. In addition to transgender students, another targeted group appears to be unmarried and pregnant students, as many religious institutions have received exemption from the requirement under Title IX to not discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, such as by expelling pregnant students or denying them certain accommodations. 

As the article notes, the exemption operates to allow $130 million annually in federal funding to support institutions that discriminate in ways that are otherwise prohibited under law, an idea that many find objectionable.  It is also troubling that information about the exemption is difficult to find. Students or employees who are subject to discrimination at these institutions may be surprised to find out that they are not legally protected, and might have made different choices about where to enroll or accept a job if they had known.  For this reason, I am going to type out the entire list of institutions who have received or are claiming such exemptions, to increase the likelihood that this information can be discovered by those searching for information about the school. The list is provided after the jump.

Exemption granted:

Anderson University
Belmont Abbey College (see also here)
Bethel  College
Charleston Southern University
Covenant College
East Texas Baptist University
Franciscan University of SteubenvilleGeorge Fox University (see also here)
Howard Payne University
Judson College
Louisiana College
North Greenville University
Northwest Nazarene University
Oklahoma Baptist University
Oklahoma Christian University
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
Simpson University (see also here)
Southern Wesleyan University
Spring Arbor University (see also here)
St. Gregory University
Tabor College
The Baptist College of Florida
Union University
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
University of Mobile
University of the Cumberlands
Williams Baptist College

Application pending:
Biola University
Carson Newman University
Colorado Christian University
Fresno Pacific University
Lancaster Bible College
Multnomah University
Ohio Christian University
William Carey University
William Jessup University