April 2023 Church & State Magazine - April 2023

AU Applauds Biden Administration For Ending Discriminatory Higher Ed Rule


Americans United in late February applauded the Biden administration for announcing plans to rescind a U.S. Department of Education rule that forces universities to sponsor and financially support religious student groups that discriminate.

The rule was devised during the Trump administration by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Critics, including Americans United, charged that the rule forced students to financially support clubs that would not admit them as members. 

“We applaud the Biden administration for affirming that discrimination has no place in our public colleges and universities,” said Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser in a statement. “Rescinding the harmful Trump rule means students won’t be forced to subsidize clubs that discriminate against them. It also means colleges won’t be forced to choose between protecting students and losing federal funding, or allowing discrimination against students in order to keep federal financial assistance.

“Americans United has worked tirelessly to end this and other Trump-administration policies that sought to undermine church-state separation and transform religious freedom from a shield that protects people into a sword to harm others,” Laser continued. “We’re pleased that the Biden administration has proposed to roll back many harmful Trump regulations that deal with birth control access, denial of medical care, and religious freedom protections for people who rely on government-funded services. While there is more work to be done, these are important steps on the path toward a country that promises the freedom and equality that come with church-state separation.” 

Americans United and American Atheists had challenged the Trump rule in court. The lawsuit, Secular Student Alliance v. U.S. Department of Education, was filed on behalf of the Secular Student Alliance and a California university student. It has been on hold while the Biden administration reconsidered the rule. 

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