For more information please call  800.727.2766


Group of States Challenging Title IX Religious Exceptions

In April 2021, a group of students filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education requesting a religious exemption to Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination at educational institutions. The lawsuit’s focus is Title IX’s application to LGBTQIA students. Title IX’s language includes an exemption for institutions “controlled by a religious organization” if applying the law “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.” The students argued that religious institutions close discrimination complaints made to the Department by LGBTQIA students based on these religious exemptions.

In November 2021, nineteen Democratic state attorneys filed an amicus brief in support of the students’ lawsuit. In 2020, the Trump administration broadened the eligibility criteria for institutions to claim a religious exemption, allowing any school that claims its mission statement is based on religious beliefs to claim an exemption. It also eliminated the requirement that institutions notify the Department in writing of their intent to seek an exemption. The removal of this requirement makes it easier and faster for schools to receive the exemption. The brief filed by the state attorneys argued the new rules “harm students, place them at higher risk of being victims of sex discrimination, and make it more difficult to hold schools accountable for the resulting harm.” The Oregon state attorney asserted the rules allow these institutions to avoid alerting prospective students as to whether they will comply with Title IX. The state attorneys did not take a position on the constitutionality of the religious exemption. The Council of Christian Colleges and three religious colleges have intervened in the lawsuit to defend the religious exemption.