The Department of Justice revised language that said it would “vigorously” defend religious colleges and universities accused of discriminating against LGBTQ students in an updated court filing in a class-action lawsuit, after criticism from LGBTQ advocates.
The lawsuit, filed by 40 LGBTQ students against the Department of Education in March, alleges that more than 20 religious colleges and universities that receive federal funding had discriminated against them by allegedly expelling them for being LGBTQ, for example, or by not investigating harassment complaints. It also aims to take down what’s known as the religious exemption to Title IX, which allows religious schools to circumvent nondiscrimination protections if it forces them to go against their religious beliefs.
The students said they expected that the Biden administration, which advocates have described as the most pro-LGBTQ administration in history, would not defend the exemption. But the Justice Department has a duty to defend federal laws, it wrote in a brief filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Eugene Division.