In Short

Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum leads brief against religious school discrimination exemptions

By: - August 29, 2023 4:29 pm
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is leading other Democratic attorneys general arguing against a Trump Administration policy of exemptions for religious schools from federal laws barring sex-based discrimination in education. (Courtesy of Ellen Rosenblum)

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Tuesday led a group of Democratic attorneys general urging a federal appeals court to limit the ways that religious schools can discriminate against students based on their sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Rosenblum and other attorneys general filed a brief in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case Hunter v. U.S. Department of Education focusing on exemptions for religious schools that receive federal funding to discriminate against students in ways that secular schools cannot. 

Title IX, the landmark 1972 law intended to ensure equality between men and women in most facets of education, requires that all schools that receive federal funding provide educational programs and activities free from discrimination, harassment and sexual violence.

The law always included a narrow exemption for religious schools, but the attorneys general said a rule adopted during the Trump administration that eliminated a requirement that schools claim religious exemptions in writing made it harder for students to know whether their school would follow the law. 

“During the Trump administration, his Department of Education gutted protections for women, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other classes of students that had been in place for four decades,” Rosenblum said in a statement. “Title IX needs to be strengthened, not systematically weakened. Students ought to know before they get to campuses whether their academic institutions will protect their rights or undermine them.” 

Forty current and former LGBTQ+ students filed the class-action lawsuit in 2021, seeking an end to religious exemptions altogether. Eugene-based U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken dismissed the suit in January, and it’s now being appealed. 

Attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia joined Rosenblum in the brief urging the court to toss the Trump administration’s rule. 


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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.