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LGBTQ groups target Criswell College over Title IX exemption

March 22nd, 2016 / By: Rob Collingsworth / comments

LGBTQ groups target Criswell College over Title IX exemption

DALLAS—For the second time in a matter of months Dallas-based Criswell College has been called out as LGBTQ groups target religious institutions that have received or applied for Title IX exemptions.

Most recently Criswell was named by the Dallas Voice as over 80 groups file an appeal asking the NCAA to “divest from all religious-based institutions that have made Title IX waiver requests targeting transgender youth.”

Although Criswell has no sports programs and no affiliation with the NCAA, the school must remain in compliance with Title IX regulations in order to receive Title IV funds such as Pell Grants and Direct PLUS Loans for students seeking financial aid.

Drafted in 1972, Title IX was intended to protect women from gender-based discrimination in educational institutions or programs that receive federal money. Under the Obama administration, Title IX protections have been expanded to prevent discrimination based not only on sex but also gender identity.

The current federal administration’s interpretation and enforcement of Title IX gender discrimination guidelines has created a threat for every school with sincerely held religious beliefs about traditional understandings of gender, sexuality and marriage,” Criswell president Barry Creamer said.

According to Creamer, this expanded interpretation of Title IX protections poses a substantive threat to religious liberty.

“Some LGBTQ advocacy groups believe that the religious liberty of school administrators and supporters is less important than the sexual liberty of their own constituents,” he said.

The law contains a specific exemption for religious institutions if accommodation “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.” Criswell is one of more than 50 institutions requesting exemption.

“We believe our request for a religious tenet exemption will be granted and that our students will not be adversely affected by the pressure tactics of these groups,” Creamer said. “We know our conviction regarding the issues will not change.”

In December, the Human Rights Campaign called upon the Obama administration to enact laws that would require schools seeking or receiving exemptions to publish information about the scope of the exemption and force the Department of Education to report which schools have been granted exemptions.

Just last week a coalition of LGBTQ advocacy groups called on the NCAA to divest from those institutions that are seeking or receiving religious exemptions in keeping with the organization’s stance on diversity.

While many of the immediate implications regarding the law affect sports programs, the law more broadly applies to discrimination in areas such as admissions, housing and financial aid.

According to Creamer, Criswell directed $500,000 last year toward the establishment of a Religious Liberty Education Fund with the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation that will eventually replace federal assistance for students.

Our position is not complicated. We are resolute in our policy, stance and doctrine regarding gender, sexuality and marriage,” Creamer said. “We would cease to operate before we would change our commitment.”