Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed in 1972 that ensures protections against discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or institutions that receive federal, taxpayer money:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
In 2010, the U.S. federal government issued guidance clarifying that existing Title IX protections on the basis of sex also include specific prohibitions from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Under the Biden Administration, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has reiterated that current civil rights law protects LGBTQ students at colleges and universities nationwide:
“Bullying, harassment, exclusion from school activities, and other forms of discrimination can interfere with LGBTQ+ students’ access to a safe and inclusive school environment. Federal law, however, requires schools to ensure that LGBTQ+ students and other students have equal access to all aspects of a school’s programs and activities.”
The protections of Title IX are intended to apply to all educational institutions – both private and public – that receive federal, taxpayer funding. However, more than 200+ taxpayer-funded religious colleges and universities have claimed a federal religious exemption from following the law. These exemptions allow these institutions to ignore non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ students, while still receiving federal funding.
REAP’s lawsuit, filed in April 21 on behalf of 33 LGBTQ students who are attending or have graduated from religious colleges, demands that the Department of Education stop granting exemptions to religious colleges. Our lawsuit, if successful, will ensure that Title IX functions as it was intended: To ensure that all institutions, both private and public, respect and protect their LGBTQ students as a prerequisite to receiving federal funds.