Christian colleges can receive Title IX funds and uphold religious beliefs on LGBT issues, judge rules

Federal court ruled Title IX funding can be continued for Christian colleges and universities that hold traditional views on marriage and sexuality. This rejects LGBT students’ attempts to repeal a federal discrimination law.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken, Oregon, ruled Thursday that the case brought by former students and students of LGBT Christian colleges was dismissed. The lawsuit had been filed in 2021 by students and alumni of these students. They claimed that Title IX discrimination laws were exempted because of their religious beliefs.

Aiken, a Clinton appointee concluded that plaintiffs failed show that the original religious exemption granted decades ago by Congress for Title IX was discriminatory.

“The plaintiffs have not made any allegations that the religious exemption was enacted with discriminatory motives on the part of the enacting parties,” Aiken stated. Aiken wrote that Plaintiffs claim Title IX’s protections against discrimination against gender and sexual minorities was not enacted by Congress.


“Plaintiffs do not provide any evidence or allegations regarding the above-listed factors. The Court can consider and determine whether Congress was motivated in part, if necessary, by discriminatory purposes when it enacted religious exemption.”

Title IX of Civil Rights Act prohibits sex-based discrimination. However, colleges that adhere to traditional definitions of marriage and sexuality may request exemptions to allow them to follow scriptural beliefs about sexuality.

The plaintiff’s claim that religious exemptions are in violation of the First Amendment of this Constitution was rejected by the court. It noted that the Supreme Court had interpreted the Constitution to allow and sometimes require accommodation of religious practices.

The opinion continued, “The plaintiffs’ claims do not clearly demonstrate that the relief they seek to enforce Title IX in religious school is not an excessive entanglement Plaintiffs claim is impossible.”

The ruling was celebrated by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal non-profit representing three Christian higher education institutions.

ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman stated that Title IX, which is applicable to schools receiving federal financial aid, explicitly protects religious schools’ freedom to live out their deeply held convictions.”

“A group of activists requested the court to remove that protection from schools that educate the next generation, and advance the common welfare. The court correctly concluded Title IX’s exemption from religious liberty doesn’t violate any plaintiffs’ rights.”

Religious Exemption Accountability Project, an advocacy group, filed the lawsuit in March 2021 on behalf of 33 LGBT students and former students. They claim that they were discriminated against at 25 religion colleges.

Plaintiffs claim that they have not been subject to harassment or mistreatment because of their LGBT identities.

Elizabeth Hunter, the main plaintiff in this case, was a former student of Bob Jones University in South Carolina. She claimed that school officials harassed and harassed her due to her sexual orientation. The student handbook that outlined the rules for sex relationships was not acceptable to Hunter, who claimed it created a “scary and harsh environment” for her.

Other schools that plaintiffs attended include Liberty University and Baylor University as well as Oral Roberts University and Azusa Pacific University. Regent University School of Law, George Fox University School of Law, Cedarville University and Brigham Young University are also included in the lawsuit.

Paul Southwick, REAP Director, stated in 2021 that Title IX’s religious exemption was an “unconstitutional endorsement” of religion by the government.

Southwick stated, “Our lawsuit requests a federal court declare that the religious exemption from Title IX, as applied a class of LGBTQ+ student attending more than 200 religiously affiliated colleges within the United States that openly discriminate versus them, using taxpayer money, is unconstitutional.”

It is a violation both of the First Amendment’s ban on religion establishment and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee of equal protection under the law for LGBTQ+ Americans.

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities filed a motion in May 2021 to intervene in the case. They claimed that there were 140 member schools throughout the U.S. and they called the lawsuit “frivolous.” The CCCU received its permission to intervene in October 2021.

The CCCU stated that faith-based higher education was an integral part of American higher education. Many of America’s first universities and colleges were founded by religious leaders. It is important that students have the chance to access the college they choose in a diverse educational environment.