FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2022
Biden Administration Investigating Six Religious Colleges for LGBTQ+ violations in Response to REAP complaints
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) launched three new investigations on May 3rd and 4th in response to Title IX complaints filed by the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP). OCR is investigating alleged LGBTQ+ rights violations at Liberty University (Virginia), La Sierra University (California) and Azusa Pacific University (California). The Biden Administration recently opened three other investigations, concerning Colorado Christian University (Colorado, opened April 2022), Clarks Summit University (Pennsylvania, opened January 2022), and Lincoln Christian University (Illinois, opened January 2022).
Luke Wilson, a former Liberty University student and current plaintiff in REAP’s ongoing class action lawsuit against the Department of Education, responded to the news that OCR is investigating his Title IX complaint: “I am beyond delighted that Liberty is (finally) being investigated for its conversion therapy program—a program that was in operation for over a decade. As a survivor of Liberty’s one-on-one conversion therapy program and as one who went to one of the group conversion therapy meetings on campus, I have since worked to raise awareness about this heinous practice that has ravaged the lives of countless queer Liberty students.”
The OCR documents opening the investigations are available here. Two of the religious colleges have already claimed religious exemptions from Title IX in response to the investigations (Lincoln Christian and Clarks Summit). The recent religious exemption requests and response letters from OCR are available here. However, all investigations remain ongoing.
Religious colleges previously requested religious exemptions from Title IX to allow schools to punish individuals who had abortions or became pregnant outside of a heterosexual marriage. For example, Liberty University requested and received such an exemption in 2014. Those documents are available here and here.
The Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP) empowers queer, trans and non-binary students at more than 200 taxpayer-funded religious colleges and universities that actively discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Through civil rights litigation, storytelling, oral history, and research, we work toward a world where LGBTQ students on all campuses are treated equally, with safety and respect.