Within the Higher Education Act reauthorization are several provisions that would allow religious student groups and religious colleges and universities that get taxpayer funds to use religion to get around nondiscrimination policies that protect students and employees at these schools.
The bill could:
Force public colleges and universities to exempt religious clubs from nondiscrimination policies. State schools implement these policies to ensure that any student can participate in campus student groups, but this provision would require the schools to sanction and subsidize discrimination.
Allow religious colleges and universities to claim a right to cite religion to ignore federal, state and local laws, including civil rights protections. The provision, which is modeled after the controversial First Amendment Defense Acts (FADAs), threatens to undermine nondiscrimination protections at the federal, state, and local level and could harm LGBTQ people and women the most.
Create a sweeping exemption that would allow religious institutions to skirt accreditation requirements, including nondiscrimination provisions. The provision would allow schools to maintain their accreditation even if they ignore nondiscrimination requirements for admissions, housing, employment, or student retention.
Religious freedom gives all Americans the right to believe – or not – as they see fit. But it does not give anyone the right to discriminate – especially when they are using taxpayer dollars.
Bill Status Passed by House Committee on Education and the Workforce on February 8, 2018
Bill Text Here