Baylor named in LGBTQ lawsuit against Department of Education
Baylor University is one of more than two dozen faith-based schools named in an LGBTQ discrimination lawsuit against the US Department of Education.
The lawsuit filed on March 29 by the Religious exemption responsibility project says religious exemptions from Title IX non-discrimination requirements are unconstitutional when schools receive federal funds such as grants or student loans.
Title IX states: “No person in the United States may, by reason of their gender, be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or be discriminated against in any educational program or activity that benefits. federal financial assistance. ”
Denominational schools are allowed to apply for a religious exemption of certain parts of Title IX insofar as its application “would be incompatible with the religious principles of the organization”.
“The Department [of Education] has never denied a religious exemption when a religious educational institution raises a religious objection, however vague or broad it may be, and however serious the harm inflicted on the student whose complaint is, or the mere existence, gave rise to the request exemption, ”says the costume.
the class action, brought by 33 plaintiffs, says the US Department of Education is complicit in the “abuses and unsafe conditions that thousands of LGBTQ + students endure at hundreds of taxpayer-funded religious colleges and universities.”
“The plaintiffs seek security and justice for themselves and for the countless students of sexual and gender minorities whose oppression, fueled by government funding and unbridled government intervention, persists with adverse consequences for the community. ‘mind, body and soul,’ the lawsuit says.
The class action lawsuit asserts the religious exemption in Title IX, as applied to LGBTQ students, violates the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Two Baylor students among the plaintiffs
In response, Baylor issued a public statement: “Baylor University maintains certain rights to exercise its freedom of religion under the US Constitution and other federal laws without government interference. This includes exemptions for affiliated religious institutions that uphold traditional religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality. As part of our Christian mission, Baylor continues to strive to provide a loving and caring community for all students, including our LGBTQ students.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter.
Two Baylor students – Veronica Bonifacio Penales, a 19-year-old woman who identifies as “queer,” and Jake Picker, a bisexual man – are among 33 plaintiffs whose experiences are cited in the lawsuit.
Penales claimed to have been harassed online and on campus by other students because of her sexuality.
“The school’s common response to my denouncing hate on campus is that I should go for counseling. As a result, I stopped reporting the incidents, ”she said.
She cited as an example of harassment a Bible that was left at her dormitory door, in which passages describing homosexual acts as culpable were highlighted. She said there was a note attached that said, “I pray for you.”
Picker, a leader of Gamma Alpha Upsilon, an LBGTQ group that Baylor has not recognized as a chartered student organization, said, “Baylor claims to love their LGBTQ + students, but they refuse to give us access to any form of system. student support. They treat our existence as if there is something wrong with us.
He claimed that LGBTQ students are likely to face discipline if they openly show affection for a same-sex partner on campus.
The two students cited that of Baylor statement on human sexuality, which says in part, “Baylor University welcomes all students to a safe and supportive environment in which to discuss and learn about a variety of issues, including those of human sexuality. The university affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God. Christian churches throughout the ages and across the world have affirmed purity in celibacy and faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical standard. The temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual relationships outside marriage and homosexual behavior. Baylor students are therefore expected not to participate in advocacy groups that promote an understanding of sexuality contrary to biblical teaching.
Council of Christian Colleges and Universities Responds
In addition to Baylor, two other historically Baptist schools – Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla. – are among the schools that the class action names in examples of alleged discrimination against LGBTQ students.
The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, an international association of more than 180 Christian schools, released a statement on March 31 saying it is reviewing the class action lawsuit.
“We take these Student Experience Reports very seriously and are committed to learning, developing and deepening our understanding of how we can provide and strengthen support to all students on Christian college and university campuses,” the CCCU said.
“CCCU institutions should be places where all students feel safe, supported and welcomed. We know that the college experience can be stressful, and even more so for LGBTQ students struggling to understand how their sexual orientation or gender identity intersects with their personal faith.
Member schools “serve diverse student associations and strive to care for all students,” the organization said, adding that there is “zero tolerance for bullying, harassment and assault in institutions. CCCU, and campus leaders understand their responsibility to ensure that all students believe and feel that they are created in the image of God and therefore possess all of their dignity, worth and worth. . “
At the same time, the organization highlighted the First Amendment rights of its member schools.
“CCCU institutions endorse a number of biblical beliefs, including a historical and biblical understanding of marriage within the framework of broader religious beliefs around human sexuality and gender, and the right of our institutions to teach and instilling these beliefs in the next generation of believers is protected by the First Amendment, ”the organization said.
“Denominational higher education has always been a vital part of the diversity of the higher education system in the United States – many of the earliest colleges and universities in the United States were religious – and it is essential that students continue the opportunity to choose and access the college of their choice in a diverse educational landscape.