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The US Department of Education has been sued in an Oregon Federal court by a group of LGBTQ students over discriminatory practices at religious colleges and universities.

The suit was filed by 33 current and former students belonging to the Religious Exemption Accountability Project (REAP).

The suit aims to “put an end to the U.S. Department of Education’s complicity in the abuses and unsafe conditions thousands of LGBTQ+ students endure at hundreds of taxpayer-funded, religious colleges and universities.”

At issue is the religious exemption to Title IX, a federal law that prohibits institutions from discriminating against students on the basis of sex in its programs. The group claims that the religious exemption has allowed schools to continue with discriminatory practices.

The students described experiences of discrimination, including being forced into conversion therapy, being denied admissions or expelled.

“The religious exemption to Title IX, however, seemingly permits the Department to breach its duty as to the more than 100,000 sexual and gender minority students attending religious colleges and universities where discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is codified in campus policies and openly practiced,” the suit says.

The suit comes as Democrats push forward with advancing protections for the LGBTQ community.

President Biden signed an executive order in early March aimed at guaranteeing that students can learn in an environment free of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but it doesn’t address religious exemptions under Title IX.

The House passed the Equality Act in late February, which expands protections in education, housing and employment to LGBT people. The measure still has an uphill battle in the Senate, where both parties control 50 seats.

SOURCE: THE HILL