New documents published by the U.S. Department of Education identify which religious colleges and universities have received an exemption from Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination.
Exemptions allow the schools to continue receiving federal funds without violating their religious beliefs. As of March 31, 232 colleges nationwide had received a waiver, including eight in Oklahoma. The names of some of the Oklahoma colleges were disclosed in December by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, but the updated list contains more names.
Institutions’ requests for waivers increased dramatically after 2014, when Title IX protections were expanded to include transgender individuals.
The schools say exemptions are needed to protect their faith-based tenets. Critics say the exemptions give colleges permission to discriminate against LGBT students and staff.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights on April 29 updated its searchable database of schools in an effort to be more transparent. (Go to search bar in middle of page; you also can tap or click on two hyperlinks.)
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that the public list will help “ensure no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them.”
Claims in the exemption requests made by some schools extend beyond gender to include prohibiting same-sex relationships, prohibiting premarital sex and sanctions for pregnancy and abortion. Some schools began receiving exemptions in 1985. Some of those colleges and additional ones received various exemptions beginning in 2014.
The eight Oklahoma institutions with waivers are Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University (formerly known as Bartlesville Wesleyan College, which is separately listed in the federal database), Rhema Bible Training College, Southern Nazarene University, St. Gregory’s University, Oral Roberts University and Mid-America Christian University (formerly known as Mid-America Bible College).
Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the number of Oklahoma colleges that received exemptions.