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Office for Civil Rights dismisses complaint against BYU

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The Brigham Young University campus in Provo is pictured on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.

Yukai Peng, Deseret News


The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on Tuesday, Feb. 8, dismissed a Title IX complaint against Brigham Young University that alleged discrimination related to students involved in same-sex romantic relationships.

In a Thursday, Feb. 10, announcement, BYU’s communications office noted that the Church-sponsored school anticipated that the OCR would dismiss the LGBTQ-related complaint because the federal organization had “repeatedly recognized BYU’s religious exemption for Title IX requirements that are not consistent with the religious tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The complaint was filed last March, although BYU was not aware of it until last October when the OCR gave notice to the school that the case had been opened.

“In a response on Nov. 19, 2021, BYU asserted its religious exemption and outlined relevant religious tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ. In closing the case, OCR recognized that BYU has a religious exemption that applies to this issue,” according to the news release.

Thursday’s new release adds that the OCR opens hundreds of investigations each year, and there are currently more than 1,400 pending Title IX cases involving schools across the country:

“Title IX generally prohibits sex discrimination in the programs or activities of federally funded institutions of higher education. Title IX also states that it ‘shall not apply’ to a religious institution to the extent that Title IX requirements are not consistent with the religious tenets of the institution’s controlling religious organization. 

“BYU has long recognized that it is subject to Title IX, and over the years, OCR has recognized the university’s religious exemption on certain issues.”

Last month, the OCR reportedly confirmed BYU’s exemption “from various Title IX provisions to the extent that application of these provisions is not consistent with the religious tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ ‘that pertain to sexual orientation and gender identity’,” according to the release.

 In closing this case on February 8, 2022, OCR determined it did not have jurisdiction over the complaint because of BYU’s religious exemption, which OCR had recognized the month before.

In a recent letter to the OCR, BYU President Kevin J Worthen affirmed the freedom “to operate a religious university without sacrificing distinctive religious beliefs,” and at the same time, BYU “will continue to support ongoing efforts to find common ground on these issues as we strive to follow Jesus Christ’s example of love and fairness for all of God’s children.”

President Worthen’s letter further stated that “we simultaneously stand firm in our religious beliefs and reiterate our love and respect for each member of the campus community.”

Read more at Deseret.com.

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