Should faith-based academic institutions be able to hold students and employees to biblical principles: Religious freedom or LGBT discrimination?
The issue between religious freedom and anti-discrimination against LGBTQ is nowhere close to coming to a resolution. Faith-based academic instutions have been fighting to exercise their beliefs, requesting for exemption to Title IX, while advocates of LGBT rights call this bigotry.
"Some voices are calling for Christian schools to be expelled from the NCAA, and others are calling for Pell Grants to be denied to students who attend our universities," said Bruce McLarty, president of Harding University in Arkansas, as quoted by The Christian Chronicle. "These attacks seem to be coming from every direction these days."
According to the report, Harding University upholds biblical principles; thus, employees and students are not allowed to engage in same-sex relationships, and "sexual immorality will result in dismissal from the university." It received $54 million in federal grants and loans in 2015.
McLarty, although concerned, is not fearful of what might happen, saying, "Christians have always faced opposition. We are committed to doing what we believe the Bible teaches us to do."
Melody Wood, a research assistant with the Heritage Foundation's DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, said that Title IX was originally meant to protect women from discrimination in education.
"Over the years, it's become a tool for bureaucrats to force schools â€” and sometimes religious schools â€” to create special privileges," she said.
The U.S. Department of Education had earlier disclosed the names of religious institutions that have gotten or have applied for exemption to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a law that prohibits discrimination based on sex. According to the Christian Chronicle report, groups supporting LGBT rights want faith-based educational institutions to be stripped of their membership to the National Collegiate Athletic Association and revoke their eligibility for federal student financial aid.
"Religion-based bigotry is careless and life-threatening," said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride in a post in April. "LGBTQ young people face high rates of harassment and violence, especially our trans youth and LGBTQ youth of color. The schools on this list have requested Title IX exemption based on religion-based bigotry targeting LGBQ and transgender people for no other purpose than to discriminate, expel and ban them from campus. It is shameful and wrong."
In California, a bill has been passed that would limit the scope that a federally funded college or university can exercise religious exemption.