By: Jenna Beresheim News Editor
On Saturday, Dec. 12, a small group of students protested outside of Multnomah University after the school requested an exemption from Title IX.
“Multnomah University is one of dozens of Christian colleges and universities applying for Title IX exemptions following the Obama administration’s decision to include gender identity under Title IX, a federal statute that prevents discrimination on the basis of sex,” writes A.J. Mendoza, the Racial Justice Organizer for Basic Rights Oregon.
Enacted in 1972, the Title IX statute focuses on sexual discrimination in educational settings.
“Title IX protects any person from sex-based discrimination, regardless of their real or perceived sex, gender identity, and/or gender expression. Female, male, and gender non-conforming students, faculty, and staff are protected from any sex-based discrimination, harassment or violence,” informs the informational website titled knowyourix.org.
“It also addresses sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, and sexual violence,” the website continues.
Title IX has been a hot topic in Oregon recently, as the issue arose beginning April 2014 with a resident student filing a complaint.
The student, a transgender male named Jayce, had not been allowed to house with other male roommates on campus at George Fox University.
George Fox University eventually won the battle for a Title IX exemption regardless, on the basis of religious grounds.
The university also claimed “that they were objecting to a housing request only, and that they haven’t kicked the student out of the university” according to insidehighered.com.
Jayce moved to an off-campus house to complete his schooling at GFU and later graduate.
Some universities are going so far as to expel transgendered students if they are ‘out’ on campus.
Multnomah University’s latest push for exemption suggests the same – that the school would “dismiss a transgender student, if one emerges in its student body” reports the Portland Mercury.
“Treating transgender students in a way that’s consistent with their gender identity would conflict with their religious tenets,” stated the University’s president, Rev. Dr. Craig Williford, in a written response to Koin 6 News.
Andrea Zekis, a policy director for Basic Rights Oregon, is a transgendered woman who attended a religious college and loved her experience there.
According to Fox 12, Andrea “worries about individuals on some religious campuses who struggle with these issues and may not feel welcomed or accepted.”
Many religious campuses, such as Multnomah University, offer counseling for those struggling with either gender or sexual identity, or a resulting sense of negative campus culture as a result.
In the last year, over 27 schools were allowed exemption from Title IX, with another nine pending applications nationwide.
Without these exemptions, discrimination may result in the complete withdrawal of federal funding for these universities in question.
Currently, there is no update as to whether Multnomah University’s exemption will pass or not as the request was only recently made.
For more information on a student’s rights regarding sexual discrimination and Title IX, visit the website knowyourix.org.