U.S. Office of Education dismisses Title IX complaint against BYU

Feb 10, 2022, 8:49 AM | Updated: 9:01 am

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PROVO, Utah — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights dismissed a Title IX complaint filed against Brigham Young University, one that alleged BYU discriminated against students on the basis of sex.

The Title IX complaint, filed against BYU in March 2020, alleged that the school discriminated against students involved in same-sex relationships by treating them differently. The difference in treatment, the complaint claimed, stemmed from the university’s position that such relationships violate BYU’s honor code.

The Deseret News reports the complaint was filed after BYU revised its honor code by removing a section dealing with homosexual behavior. Some students reportedly equated that change with permission for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other students to date, kiss, and hold hands. The school later clarified that “same-sex romantic behavior” didn’t match with the honor code.

Related: Church clarifies Honor Code policy on same-sex behavior, says it’s ‘not compatible’ with rules

BYU President Kevin Worthen described the school’s honor code in a letter to the U.S. Department of Education. According to Worthen, it incorporates “religious tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ regarding marriage, family, chastity, gender, and divine identity.”

In a letter to BYU President Kevin Worthen, the OCR dismissed the complaint. The agency said it does not have the “jurisdiction to address the complaint’s allegations.” 

School officials received notification of the complaint in October of 2021. Not long after, BYU officials requested “an assurance of exemption of Title IX and its implementing regulation.”

Many religious institutions like BYU, which affiliates with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claim exemption to portions of Title IX.

Specifically, the government exempts schools such as BYU from Title IX provisions that pertain to sexual orientation and gender identity.

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U.S. Office of Education dismisses Title IX complaint against BYU