Brigham Young University (BYU), a private religious university in Provo, Utah, received fortuitous news that Biden’s Department of Education dismissed a civil rights complaint filed over the university’s dating standards from March 2020.
The two-years-long investigation came from LGBTQIA+ students at BYU who complained that the university’s emphasis on heterosexual dating and the prohibition of homosexual dating was illegal, according to existing federal anti-discrimination laws. However, BYU has a student code of conduct, known as the Honor Code, that specifically includes these dating standards as a part of attending BYU. Students must sign it to attend BYU, and therefore, the dating standards should not have been a surprise to LGBTQIA+ students.
The federal agency’s Office of Civil Rights sent the letter to BYU President Kevin Worthen and acknowledged that the university’s religious affiliations permitted exemptions that the federal government could not overturn. Although BYU receives federal funding through Title IX, which law prohibits sex-based discrimination, the federal government cannot compel a religious organization or university to go against its core religious beliefs.
The letter outlined the complaint that started the investigation, which “alleged that the University engages in different treatment of students who are involved in same-sex romantic relationships by stating that such relationships are not compatible with the principles of the University’s Honor Code.”
It concluded, “Because the University is exempt from the above-referenced regulatory provisions of Title IX,” the letter says, “OCR lacks jurisdiction to address the complaint’s allegations. Accordingly, OCR is dismissing this complaint.”
BYU is operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and it is a part of the church’s educational system that includes college campuses in Idaho and Hawaii.