A Republican lawmaker has told Tennessee colleges and universities that acknowledging LGBTQ students in public materials as “protected” under federal Title IX law may very well be violating state law.
Rep. John Ragan (R) reached out to public higher education institutions, including the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University, in August asking schools to “immediately revoke” or remove materials that suggest LGBTQ persons are protected under the landmark law.
Title IX is a federal law that bars discrimination on the premise of sex at institutions that receive federal assistance, in accordance with the U.S. Department of Education; the institutions are required to operate in a “nondiscriminatory manner” on the premise of sex.
The department had proposed changes to Title IX reminiscent of the addition of phrases that might include LGBTQ people within the law, WREG-TV reported, but those changes were temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Tennessee in July.
Ragan’s letter cited the federal court order, stating it “enjoined and restrained” federal officials from using the department’s previous guidance to guard LGBTQ people under the law, WBIR-TV reported.
You may read the letter, published by WBIR-TV, below.
The University of Tennessee responded to Ragan by stating it didn’t change its public Title IX materials including web sites and policies.
“We don’t consider anything in our current policies, procedures, or statements regarding title IX or nondiscrimination violates either federal or state law,” the university wrote to Ragan.
East Tennessee State University responded to the letter by removing references to protections for LGBTQ people on at the least one website, WJHL-TV reported.
“Universities usually are not at liberty to disregard state law, no matter their accreditation or certification organizations say they most should get their accreditation,” Ragan told WREG-TV.
“These usually are not governmental entities, and as such universities must follow state law over and above what these organizations tell them.”