A Christian university formally received a Title IX exemption allowing the school to uphold its religious beliefs on sexuality.
Over the weekend, Baylor University was approved for a Title IX exemption by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
The approval was a response to a letter dated May 1, in which Dr. Linda Livingstone, president of the Texas-based university, responded to complaints filed with the OCR claiming the school violated Title IX.
Livingstone explained the university is closely affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and that it’s “religious beliefs and practices are protected by constitutional and statutory law.”
Passed in 1972, Title IX was originally intended to protect against sex-based discrimination. However, in 2021, President Joe Biden reinterpreted the law via an executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Nonetheless, Title IX states that “an educational institution which is controlled by a religious organization” is exempt from applying the nondiscrimination law if the application “would not be consistent with the religious tenets.”
According to Livingstone’s letter, Baylor was accused of discrimination for refusing an official charter to the club Gamma Alpha Upsilon, an LGBT support group, as well as alleged responses to sexual harassment reports.
Gamma Alpha Upsilon – its Greek letters effectively spelling “GAY” – is an LGBT+ student group that advocates “for the legitimacy of queer affirming theology.” On its Facebook page, it dubs itself as “Baylor’s official unofficial gay club.”
To attempt to serve the students without contradicting its theological beliefs, Baylor eventually chartered a different group, Prism, described as “an LGBTQ+ and allies student organization.”
“Baylor welcomes and supports all its students and employees who agree to abide by its religious tenets, including those who identify as LGBTQI+,” said Livingstone’s letter to the OCR. “But both Title IX and the U.S. Constitution protect Baylor from any complaint that would compel the University to act in a manner contrary to its deeply held religious beliefs.”
Lori Fogleman, Baylor’s assistant vice president of media and public relations, explained the university is simply trying to maintain its theological integrity:
“Baylor is responding to current considerations by the U.S. Department of Education to move to an expanded definition of sexual harassment, which could infringe on Baylor’s rights under the U.S. Constitution, as well as Title IX, to conduct its affairs in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs.”