GLSEN denounces harmful new religious exemptions

proposed by the Trump Administration

NEW YORK, NY (January 21, 2020) – GLSEN, the leading education organization working to create safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students, today denounced the harmful religious exemptions to federally funded programs across nine federal agencies recently proposed by the Trump Administration. These new regulations would - among other things - make it easier for schools to qualify for Title IX exemptions as “religious schools,” and make it more difficult for states to protect students from discrimination carried out with public funds. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects students from discrimination on the basis of sex, which has been interpreted in recent years to cover discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Further, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue which will be argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow could allow for public funds to go to schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and staff by eradicating the current provisions that bar public funds from financing religious education. The Department of Justice under U.S. Attorney General William Barr filed an amicus brief in support of jettisoning those provisions. 

“The Trump Administration’s on-going effort to make us all pay for discrimination in K-12 schools under the guise of religion must be resisted at every step,” said Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN. “We should be working to make our nation’s schools safe for all students, not eroding existing civil rights protections that protect LGBTQ and other marginalized youth, and paying for the practices that put them at risk.”

GLSEN’s most recent National School Climate Survey (NSCS) shows that 62 percent of LGBTQ youth experienced discriminatory school policies and practices. LGBTQ students who experienced LGBTQ-related discrimination at school were more likely to miss school, had lower GPAs, were less likely to feel a sense of belonging to their school community,  had lower self-esteem, and had higher levels of depression. GLSEN’s NSCS also found that LGBTQ students in religious schools were more likely to hear negative remarks about gender expression than LGBTQ students in public schools, and LGBTQ students in religious schools reported the most anti-LGBTQ related discriminatory school policies and practices, compared to LGBTQ students in public schools and in private non-religious schools.

GLSEN is calling for the passage of the Equality Act which would protect all students from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, which would help assure safer school environments, where LGBTQ youth can thrive, personally and academically. 

Media Contact:
Sue Yacka-Bible, Senior Media Relations Manager | | 646-388-6575


GLSEN works to create safe and inclusive schools for all. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach millions of students and educators in K-12 schools, via action at the national, state, and local level. Over nearly three decades of work, GLSEN has improved conditions for LGBTQ students across the United States and launched an international movement to address LGBTQ issues in education and promote respect for all in schools. Find more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, school-based programs, research, and professional development for educators at