LAS VEGAS — (01-13-23) — Federal Judge Ann Aiken sided with the religious right on Thursday, by dismissing a lawsuit filed by LGBTQ students who allege the Department of Education doesn’t protect them against discrimination. The students cited more than two dozen religiously affiliated universities that receive federal funding while discriminating against LGBTQ students.

A group of current and former LGBTQ college students filed a lawsuit in an attempt to challenge the religious exemptions granted under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational programs or activities that receive federal funds.

The plaintiffs alleged that, by design, the exemptions permit religiously affiliated institutions to discriminate against LGBTQ students.

Judge Ann Aiken of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Eugene Division, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, wrote in her decision that the students…

“Sufficiently alleged” that the exemptions permit “religiously affiliated schools to use religious exemptions to deny federally-funded educational services to current and prospective students.” However, Aiken added, the students did not prove Congress’ intent behind the exemptions and dismissed the case.

“Plaintiffs have submitted no allegations of discriminatory motivation on the part of those enacting the religious exemption,” she wrote in her decision. “To the contrary, Plaintiffs argue that when Congress enacted Title IX, protections for — or discrimination against sexual and gender minorities — were ‘of no concern.’”

Alliance Defending Freedom, a well known anti-LGBTQ conservative legal advocacy group that represents the religiously affiliated universities, celebrated the judge’s decision by saying that the Title IX exemptions protect “the freedom of religious schools to live out their deeply and sincerely held convictions.”

Review Judge Ann Aiken’s – Hunter vs United States Department of Education and Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

“A group of activists asked the court to strip that protection away from schools that educate the next generation and advance the common good,” said David Cortman, an attorney for ADF, said in a statement Thursday. “The court correctly concluded that Title IX’s religious liberty exemption doesn’t violate any of the plaintiffs’ claimed rights.” said Cortman.

The Alliance Defending Freedom is well known for advocating against and litigating in cases against LGBTQ civil rights.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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