Legal Update: How We're Working This Summer to Protect LGBTQ+ Students at Religious Schools

It’s been a busy August for our legal team at the Religious Exemption Accountability Project – and we wanted to be sure you were in the loop and knew how you could support our growing movement for dignity and respect for LGBTQ+ students at taxpayer-funded religious colleges and universities.


Earlier this month our team submitted a flurry of legal filings: First, we helped 35 of our plaintiffs file official Title IX complaints about the anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination they have experienced from their colleges. Then, we filed a motion in federal court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a preliminary injunction. If granted, the TRO would prevent the Office of Civil Rights from citing the federal religious exemption as a reason for dismissing our plaintiffs’ Title IX complaints until our case is formally decided.


A hearing on this TRO request is scheduled for August 31.


We’ve made a compelling argument – and now the ball is really in the Biden Administration’s court: Although the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the case outright, on procedural grounds, they also wrote in their filings that they do not condone the anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination. Just a few days after filing their motion to dismiss, in fact, the Department of Justice and Department of Education shared a video on their YouTube channel with a message of support for transgender youth heading back to school, and then tweeted about their guidance on LGBTQ+-inclusive nondiscrimination policies for schools.


Here’s where you come in: We need you to contact Suzanne Goldberg, the Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, and urge her to provide students at religious colleges with the same protections that all other American students are guaranteed. Learn more and send a message to the Office of Civil Rights here.


The Biden Administration is at a crossroads on this issue, and it’s up to us to encourage them to do the right thing for LGBTQ+ students at religious colleges. We’re simply asking that the Administration give the Title IX complaints filed by our students a chance by not dismissing them outright, seeing if the claims have merit, and then opening an investigation as our case proceeds.


By dismissing the complaints, the government would be closing the door to this remedy that should be open to everyone. It’s time for us to ask the Department of Education and its leadership: Are you going to open the door to dignity and safety for LGBTQ+ students, or are you going to close the door?


Let’s ask that question to the Department of Education and make it clear that we’re watching and listening – that we appreciate the messages of support for LGBTQ+ students, but that this support must apply to ALL LGBTQ+ students, including those at religious colleges who continue to abuse and discriminate against LGBTQ+ people because of the federal religious exemption to Title IX. Take action with us and send a message by clicking here.