The U.S. Department of Education has recognized Baylor University’s right to receive religious exemptions from certain Title IX policies regarding LGBTQ students and employees.
In a July 25 letter to Baylor, the Department’s Office of Civil Rights declared that Baptist colleges are exempt from these provisions “so long as they conflict with the college’s religious doctrine.”
The clauses at issue broadly include issues such as admissions, sexual harassment, housing, financial and employment assistance, and rules regarding private associations.
A letter from Undersecretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lamon states that the City of Baylor as a whole is not exempt from Title IX and that federal officials will determine whether future complaints fall within the exemptions granted. It is stated.
In June 2021, the Department of Education announced guidance that the groundbreaking 1972 law, which banned discrimination based on sex, also extends to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That same year, the Office of Civil Rights received several complaints against Baylor for violating its guidelines, and the Office followed up with a letter to the university on April 7 of this year.
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Baylor President Linda Livingston responded on May 1 in a letter stating that the four LGBT-related charges had to be dismissed, stating: “This complaint is based on the City of Baylor’s statutes from Title 9 of the Education Reform Act of 1972. It is directly related to the religious exemption and the free exercise clause of the Education Act Amendment.” US Constitution and Other Laws. ”
Livingston said Baylor “does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity per se, but it does regulate conduct that goes against religious values and beliefs that are integral to the Christian faith and mission.” Ta.
Livingston said the alleged Title IX violation was the application of the Statement on Human Sexuality, the Sexual Practices Policy, the Civil Rights Policy, the Seminary Policy, the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, and the Tuyette Handbook to the campus community. claimed to be the cause.
The University’s Statement on Human Sexuality states that while Baylor University welcomes and supports all students, including LGBTQ students, heterosexual and homosexual behavior outside of marriage deviates from “biblical norms of sexuality.” says there is.
“The university affirms the Bible’s understanding of sexuality as a gift from God,” the statement said. “Christian churches all over the world have recognized the chastity of celibacy and the fidelity of marriage between men and women as biblical norms. Therefore, Baylor students are not expected to participate in advocacy groups that promote an understanding of sexuality that is contrary to biblical teachings.”
The letter also lists three specific circumstances in which Title IX policies were allegedly violated.
- University Decision to Reject Official Charter to LGBTQ Student Organization Gamma Alpha Upsilon
- The university’s alleged response to notifying a student that he or she is being harassed based on sexual orientation and gender identity
- Baylor University allegedly pressured university media not to cover LGBTQ protests and events in September and October 2021.
It is unclear in the correspondence between Ramon and Livingston what exactly the alleged media pressure was. Student newspaper Baylor Lariat announced in September and October 2021 that Baylor University’s decision not to establish Gamma and the protests related to that decision, as well as the establishment of PRISM, a new LGBTQ student group, to replace Gamma. I published several articles about the university’s decision to do so. .
In a May letter, Livingston wrote that universities do not have to ask the Ministry of Education for religious exemptions, but that the ministry had previously recognized Baylor University’s right to religious exemptions. .Abner McCall University President Claimed in 1976 It argued that its status as a college “under the control of the Texas Baptist Convention” protected admission and employment decisions regarding unmarried pregnant women, as well as programs that favored men in missionary work.
Livingston’s letter said the city of Baylor is “closely aligned” with the BGCT, but does not claim that the BGCT is governed by the treaty.
The exemptions asserted by Livingstone and confirmed by Ramon relate to the anti-discrimination provisions of Title IX in the following categories: Private Organizations, Admissions, Recruitment, Sexual Harassment, Educational Programs and Activities, Housing, Equivalent Facilities, Classes. access to, and the impact of regulations on educational programs and activities. Schools, Counseling, Financial Assistance, Student Employment Assistance, Health Insurance and Insurance Benefits and Services, Marital Status or Parental Status, Athletics, Physical Education Evaluation, Employment.
According to a press release from the Religious Immunity Liability Project, a complaint about the city of Baylor’s response to reports of harassment based on sexual orientation came from former Baylor University student Veronica Penares. Penares filed a Title IX complaint in 2021 alleging that the city of Baylor tolerated sexual harassment, and a federal investigation began earlier this year, according to the announcement.
“I am disappointed with Baylor’s lack of integrity and accountability to its students,” Penares said in a release. “I know many of you feel unsafe going back to campus, and that is understandable. If we believe there is, then we are really left with no protection.”
According to an April 7, 2021, Baylor Lariat article, faculty members’ same-sex spouses are not eligible for medical coverage under Baylor’s group insurance. The policy defines an eligible dependent spouse as a “legally married spouse of the opposite sex.”
Earlier this year, a federal district judge in Oregon ruled against a group of LGBTQ students in a lawsuit against several religious colleges seeking to challenge a law granting them Title IX exemptions. . Penares was one of 40 plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
In a statement to the Tribune Herald, Professor Baylor said the university’s claims to the Department of Education of existing religious exemptions were a broad exemption to its sexual harassment policy within the Title IX rules. He said it was “disappointing” to be “misunderstood” as if
“Instead, Baylor is responding to the U.S. Department of Education’s current consideration of moving to an expanded definition of sexual harassment, which is based on the U.S. Constitution and Title IX to conduct business in a consistent manner. “With religious beliefs,” the statement said, which could violate rights. “The City of Baylor has taken and will continue to take meaningful steps to ensure that members of the LGBTQ community are loved, cared for and protected as part of the Baylor family. We will continue to promote and maintain an educational environment in which we can learn and grow according to our Christian mission and call to love our neighbors as ourselves.”