Home Christian News UPDATE: Religious Colleges Face a Lawsuit Related to Protections of LGBTQ Students

UPDATE: Religious Colleges Face a Lawsuit Related to Protections of LGBTQ Students

Linda Livingstone, president of Baylor, wrote in 2019 that the school complies with the law and doesn’t expel or discipline students for having “same-sex attraction.” Nor do its counselors “practice or condone conversion or reparative therapy.” Although Baylor’s LGBTQ group has been denied official status, Livingstone wrote, “We understand that we must do more to demonstrate love and support for our students who identify as LGBTQ.”

Last month, Bob Jones University President Steve Pettit warned that the Equality Act “would enforce a single government-sanctioned ideology and punish those who do not conform.” But a spokesman said the university “believes that all persons have inherent dignity and should thus be treated with kindness and respect.”

Other Christian schools named in the class-action lawsuit include Azusa Pacific and Moody Bible Institute.

Related News: Professor Can Sue Over Pronoun Debate

In related news, Ohio philosophy professor Nicholas Meriwether got the okay from a federal appeals court last Friday to proceed with a lawsuit against his employer, Shawnee State University. The school had formally disciplined Meriwether in 2018 when he declined to call a transgender student by their preferred pronouns.

Shawnee State, a public university, requires staff to use pronouns that match a student’s preferred identity. But Meriwether said his Christian beliefs prevented him from honoring the request of a transgender student to use feminine pronouns. Receiving a reprimand for that, he says, violated his First Amendment rights.

A district court had dismissed the professor’s lawsuit. In overturning that ruling, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals writes, “Traditionally, American universities have been beacons of intellectual diversity and academic freedom. They have prided themselves on being forums where controversial ideas are discussed and debated. And they have tried not to stifle debate by picking sides.”

Meriwether is represented by the Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which says it’s pleased the lawsuit can proceed. “This case forced us to defend what used to be a common belief: that nobody should be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep their job,” says ADF senior counsel John Bursch.

“We are very pleased that the 6th Circuit affirmed the constitutional right of public university professors to speak and lead discussions, even on hotly contested issues,” adds Bursch. “The freedoms of speech and religion must be vigorously protected if universities are to remain places where ideas can be debated and learning can take place.”

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Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 28 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her family.