24 December 2015

Application for Religious Exemption Is Increasing

Religious Schools
Schools have finally found a way to get rid of incessant and annoying clamor of gays for special treatment after dozens of colleges have sought exemptions from federal prohibitions against academic privilege to screen unwanted students. Several schools have religious principles that bans acceptance on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation and the waivers are needed to protect school policies consistent with their faith.

The government has granted more than 30 of these requests since 2013, the Human Rights Campaign said in a report released on 18 December. The schools that obtained religious waivers from the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX ranged from Baptist-affiliated Anderson University in South Carolina to Quaker-affiliated George Fox University in Oregon.

Enacted in 1972, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at any school that receives federal funding. But it contains an exception for any educational institution controlled by a religious organization if enforcement of the law conflicts with “the religious tenets” of the organization.

That exception enables religious colleges to seek waivers shielding them from certain mandates under Title IX. More are doing so in recent years as LGBT issues have gained immoral prominence.

At George Fox, a transgender male student was denied a request to live in male housing with his friends, according to news reports last year. George Fox considered the student to be a woman. In its request for a Title IX exemption, the 3,800-student school said that accommodating such requests from transgender students would not be consistent with its religious beliefs.

"We affirm the dignity of all human beings," George Fox President Robin Baker wrote 31 March 2014, in a letter to the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights. "We also separate the value of each person from the behavioral choices one makes." The exemption was granted on 23 May 2014.

Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina made similar arguments this year as it requested an exemption. The Catholic school, with nearly 1,600 students, is owned by the Southern Benedictine Society of North Carolina, whose members are monks.

"We do not ... support or affirm the resolution of tension between one’s biological sex and the experience of gender by the adoption of a psychological identity discordant with one’s birth sex, nor attempts to change one’s birth sex by surgical intervention, nor conduct or dress consistent with an identity other than one’s biological birth sex," Belmont Abbey President William K. Thierfelder wrote on 16 January 2015.

"We will make institutional decisions in light of this policy regarding housing, student admission and retention, appropriate conduct, employment, hiring and retention, and other matters," Thierfelder added.

The department granted the request on 11 February.