Oregon leads states intervening in religious school discrimination case

SALEM, Oregon – Oregon is leading a coalition of states and the District of Columbia in a class action lawsuit against the federal government over Trump-era changes to the application of anti-discrimination laws in religious schools.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and 18 other Attorneys General filed an amicus brief on Tuesday in United States District Court for the District of Oregon, joining class action Hunter v. United States Department of Education Case. The brief supports the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, students who oppose the federal government’s implementation of religious exceptions to Title IX anti-discrimination laws that began under the Trump administration.

Title IX generally prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded schools and requires schools to act to prevent discrimination and harassment on campus. However, it originally provided for a slight exception for schools run by religious institutions. This exception spread under officials of the Trump era.

“It is scandalous that the United States Department of Education under the Trump administration removed protections for women, members of the LGBTQ + community and other classes of students that have been in place for 40 years. The new rules put students at direct and serious risk of discrimination and harassment, ”said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “Worse yet, the rules allow schools to avoid notifying their students before enrolling whether or not they will comply with Title IX protections. “

According to Rosenblum’s office, the Trump-era rule allows any school that claims its mission statement is based on religious beliefs to seek exemption from the anti-discrimination requirements of Title IX. In addition, schools no longer have to request this exemption in writing from the Ministry of Education, making the process of circumventing Title IX faster and easier.

The elimination of a written request for an exemption took place in August 2020, and schools were then allowed to invoke it immediately in response to a student’s complaint. In November, the scope of the religious exemption provided for in Title IX had been “considerably” extended.

“Combined, the rules harm students, put them at a higher risk of being sexually discriminated against, and make it more difficult to hold schools accountable for the resulting harms,” ​​the GA coalition wrote in their submission. amicus. “States have a duty to protect students from the short and long term harms of discrimination and harassment. States also have an interest in ensuring that students can learn in an environment free from such harassment. For these reasons , the States support the complainants in their request to annul the rules of August 2020 and November 2020. ”

The U.S. District Court ruled earlier this month that three Christian post-secondary schools which could be affected by a decision in the hunter the case would be allowed to join the Ministry of Education in its defense.

Attorney General Rosenblum was joined in the case by Attorneys General for California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, from New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia. , Vermont and Washington.

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