by Jerry Coyne
It’s one thing for private clubs and schools to be allowed to discriminate if they are purely private, getting no funds from the taxpayer nor catering to interstate commerce. It’s another thing entirely for government-funded organizations to be allowed to legally discriminate against people on the basis of religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender. Such behavior may be legal (see below), but it’s immoral, and should be stopped. And now the Obama administration is handing out permissions to discriminate to colleges funded by the government. (Earlier administrations gave government money to religious schools, but that was illegal, too, though not deemed so by the courts; and we’re talking Democrats here.)
Title IX, part of an education bill passed in 1972, prohibits gender discrimination in any institution receiving funds from the US government. It’s been successfully used to promote women’s sports, but also women’s participation in educational activities, clubs, organizations, and the like. It would seem to prohibit discrimination against LGBT students as well, given that it states this:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
However, the law also has an built-in exemption: if the organization is a religious one, it need not obey Title IX when gender equality “conflicts with the religious tenets” of that organization.
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