Christianity,  Politics

Pepperdine asks to have its Title IX exemption removed

This is fairly significant news reported by The Huffington Post. Pepperdine University has asked to have its Title IX exemption removed. From the report:

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.


  • Ian Shaw

    That’s interesting that they filed to withdraw their exemption.

    Interesting that my alma mater Spring Arbor just received one. That was mostly likely due to the quagmire they got into with a longtime professor in the adult studies program that declared himself as transgender and started being seen in town dressed in womens’ clothing. University terminated his contract, but there was nothing specific in the code of conduct regarding transgenderism (the other obvious ones, yes). They reached a settlement I believe. I think this went down at SAU around 2005-2006…while I was there.

    Makes sense they’d get this exemption.

  • buddyglass

    “Effectively, this bill means that Christian colleges and universities would no longer be able to operate according to the teachings of their faith.”

    This doesn’t seem to be true, last I checked. If I recall correctly (which may not be the case; I’m happy to be corrected), in order to sidestep the CA bill a university need only decline to accept any funds from the state of California, including state-funded student scholarships and financial aid.

      • Ian Shaw

        Agreed, There are very few private Christian (or not) colleges in each state that refuse to take federal or state dollars and very few could afford to). It may mean that those Christian colleges/universities may need to reduce the cost of a Christian higher education, which would mean significant decreases in wages to professors and employees.

        The only one I can think of in Michigan is Hillsdale College, but it’s not Christian (but very ultra conservative).

        • Christiane Smith

          If the university mentioned in the post is the same Pepperdine that is near La Jolla CA, then I see it also as more of a bastion of ‘very ultra conservative’ political entity than a conservative Christian school.

          It is a well-endowed school, and it’s students are generally ranging from upper middle-class-to-wealthy conservative families.

          I cannot account for the reasoning behind the change, but Pepperdine has always seemed more politically-oriented than as a center for conservative Christian thought.

          It’s graduates are Christian people. I knew several who were members of our lake club in Jersey. They had participated in missions and collected and distributed Bibles internationally, at their own expense. They are decent people, but very, very ‘conservative’ politically in their thinking, yes.

      • Kathleen McNeal

        Then — by providing public funding to Christian schools that discriminate against women or LGBT Americans — you are expecting California taxpayers to subsidize discrimination against themselves and people they love. That is unlikely to be acceptable to the majority of Californians.

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