Passed in 1972, Title IX “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.” An educational institution that is “controlled by a religious organization” may apply for a Title IX exemption if it “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.” Pepperdine had originally filed a request for a Title IX exemption in 1976 that was later granted in 1985. The request allowed Pepperdine to take disciplinary action against those who were found “to be involved in heterosexual relationships outside the holy union of wedlock or in homosexual relationships” as well as exclude women from various activities.
In 2014, the Obama Administration issued a “Dear Colleague letter” clarifying Title IX and that it does protect the rights of transgender students. The national LGBT youth organization Campus Pride has been tracking the Title IX exemptions since July of 2014 when George Fox University was able to deny a transgender student housing on campus. Then Simpson University and Spring Arbor University received exemptions that same month to punish or expel transgender students as necessary.
Currently there are 75 campuses that have received and, or are pending these Title IX exemptions. Since this information was not public, Campus Pride launched the “Shame List” to openly share these campuses and to warn youth and families. This past April, the U.S. Department of Education decided to change previous policy and instead publicly release all documents associated with Title IX.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter that Pepperdine University President sent to the United States Department of Education:
Please accept this letter as Pepperdine University’s withdrawal of its 1976 request for an exemption from certain provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972…While the university continues to be controlled, within the meaning contemplated by Title IX, through its affiliation with the Churches of Christ, the University is committed to complying with Title IX…We are thankful for OCR’s respect for the religious freedoms of religious and religiously-affiliated organizations. The University would appreciate OCR removing it from any list of universities holding a Title IX exemption or, alternatively, including this withdrawal in any public disclosure of its Title IX exemption materials.
If this report is correct, it appears that Pepperdine is getting itself off the “Shame List.” It would also be preemptively dealing with the religious liberty clash over a bill in California that would all but eliminate Title IX religious exemptions. Effectively, this bill means that Christian colleges and universities would no longer be able to operate according to the teachings of their faith. The bill is so radical it will effectively “erase” Christian schools in California.
This bill is a moot point for Pepperdine now that they have renounced their religious exemption from Title IX.