1.20.23 – Waco Tribune-Herald

“Court Tosses LGBTQ Students’ Suit Over Religious Exemptions from Anti-Discrimination Law” 

By Rhiannon Saegert

A wooden gavel and a small wood bowl.

A federal district court recently ruled against a group of LGBTQ students challenging a law that exempts religious universities from federal anti-discrimination rules, but the students’ legal team said this week their fight is not over. 

Oregon District Court Judge Ann Aiken dismissed the students’ class action suit, which includes a Baylor University student among about 40 plaintiffs. Paul Southwick, director and head lawyer for the Religious Exemptions Accountability Project, filed the suit against the U.S. Department of Education in March of 2021

The federal law known as Title IX prohibits educational institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex, but it allows exceptions for institutions controlled by religious organizations to adhere to religious beliefs that conflict with anti-discrimination provisions.

Southwick [director and head lawyer for the Religious Exemptions Accountability Project who filed the suit], said the lawsuit is against the Department of Education; but two organizations, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Council for Christian Colleges for Universities, intervened in the case. Baylor University is a “collaborative partner” of the latter.

the judge’s ruling…says the schools are protected under the First Amendment. 

He [Southwick] said the complaints have to go through another level of review because of the religious exemptions afforded to the schools involved…