February 2016 Church & State - February 2016

Scads Of Christian Schools Win Waivers To Federal Anti-Discrimination Law

  AU admin

Dozens of Christian schools have sought – and many have received – waivers from the federal government so that they are able to discriminate against LGBT students and staff without affecting their tax funding.

Sixty schools have already sought from the Obama administration exemptions from Title IX, a provision in a 1972 education law that states that educational programs may not discriminate on the basis of sex if they receive federal aid.

The Column, a Minnesota-based publication, reported in December that over the past 18 months, 27 institutions received waivers that would allow them to discriminate against students and staff who are transgender or are in same-sex relationships.

Title IX has always contained an out for religious groups. Any program “controlled by a religious organization” does not have to comply if doing so “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization,” the law states.

In 2014, the Obama administration issued new rules making it clear that organizations receiving federal funds, which most private schools do in the form of grants and loans to students, can’t discriminate “based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.” As a result of that action, coupled with the extension of marriage equality nationwide, there has been an uptick in Christian institutions seeking waivers. 

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