President Joe Biden speaks during a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma on 1 June 2021.(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
The Biden administration has been accused of “aligning itself with anti-LGBTQ hate” after it filed a legal motion claiming it shares the “same” objective as anti-LGBT+ religious schools.
A court filing Tuesday (8 June) from the justice department said it can “vigorously” defend the religious discrimination at these colleges and universities. The Washington Post reported that this legal document also claimed the Biden administration “shares the same ultimate objective” as anti-LGBT+ religious educational institutions.
Advocacy group the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP) filed a class-action lawsuit in March on behalf of dozens of current and former LGBT+ students from religious schools across the US. REAP argued federal civil rights law Title IX – which prohibits sex-based discrimination but contains an exemption for religious entities – allowed “widespread discrimination against LGBTQ students at faith-based” educational institutes.
Paul Carlos Southwick, director of REAP, told the Washington Post that the filing effectively meant the government is “aligning itself with anti-LGBTQ hate” to “vigorously defend an exemption that everyone knows causes severe harm to LGBTQ students”.
REAP’s March lawsuit explained that the student’s involved “seek safety and justice for themselves” and “countless sexual and gender minority students whose oppression” was “fuelled by government funding”.
The filing also claimed the US Department of Education’s “inaction” against this discrimination leaves students “unprotected from the harms of conversion therapy, expulsion, denial of housing and healthcare, sexual and physical abuse and harassment” and the “damaging” “consequences of institutionalised shame, fear, anxiety and loneliness”.
In May, the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), whose members were named in REAP’s lawsuit, requested to be part of the lawsuit in order to represent the schools’ religious beliefs and even claimed the Biden administration “may be openly hostile” to these beliefs.
But the justice department’s recent filing said the Department of Education and the schools share the “same ‘ultimate objective’” which is to “uphold the religious exemption as it is currently applied”, the Washington Post reported.
Shirley Hoogstra, president of the CCCU, told the Washington Post on Tuesday that she was “pleased” to see that the Biden administration wants to “defend religious exemption”.