How Title IX Claims Are Handled When Faith-Based Schools Claim Religious Exemptions (Part One)

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jul 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

Title IX rules must be adhered to by all schools that receive federal funding. While it's commonly understood that public schools fall into the category of “publicly funded,” it's also important to understand that numerous private schools do as well. This means accusations of Title IX violations can be brought against you even when you attend or work at a private institution. This area of law has always been precarious, but there's never been a more important time to hire an experienced defense attorney when you've been accused of Title IX violations.

Title IX is designed to protect individuals against discrimination and assault on the basis of their sex. While these schools are required to adhere to Title IX rules, they do benefit from what is known as religious exemptions, especially when the accusation relates to claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. Notably, these exemptions allow the schools to maintain the integrity of their religious tenets in ways that might not be protected in secular schools that receive federal dollars. After all, the federal government understands that they are giving financial aid to faith-based schools when they offer the money.

Moving Title IX Accusations into Courtrooms

Historically, the federal government hasn't denied religious exemptions and has given broad authority to the school in determining the appropriateness of their claimed exemptions. In fact, in an article published by Pepperdine University, the author notes, “In more than 40 years, the federal government has never denied a religious exemption claim to Title IX.”

While religious exemption challenges have almost always been adjudicated in administrative law proceedings rather than in a court of law, it appears that trend may be changing. Recently, the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of LGBTQ+ students, claiming that the discrimination committed by Christian universities and colleges resulted in abuses in violation of Title IX. We don't know who will come out on top—but the venue matters.

As the pendulum of activism swings, it's likely that we'll see more and more Title IX violations end up in federal court, as opposed to administrative hearings. When you've been accused, you need to hire a lawyer who understands how both systems work.

Hiring a Title IX Defense Lawyer

Right now, we are in somewhat uncharted territory when it comes to claims of Title IX violations and how they will hold up under religious exemptions. In the coming years, students and employees at faith-based schools may become more susceptible to Title IX accusations even when the alleged discrimination is a result of a religious belief. Ultimately, schools want to receive their federal funding and will often do what they need to do to protect themselves from liability. You're likely to see a change in conduct policies and procedures that accomplish this ultimate goal.

If you are or have been accused of Title IX violations, you need aggressive and competent legal representation. Joseph D. Lento and his team have unparalleled experience defending students against Title IX claims at school, in administrative proceedings, and in courts throughout the United States. To learn more, contact us online or call 888.535.3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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