Court of Appeals Rules Against Christian Legal Society, Denies Request to Reopen Challenge to University’s Non-Discrimination Policy

November 17, 2010

Today the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the Christian Legal Society’s request to present additional evidence in Christian Legal Society v. Wu, a case challenging a California law school’s policy that student groups may not discriminate based on sexual orientation, religion, or other bases. Today’s ruling brings an end to six years of litigation in this case, which began in 2004 when the Christian Legal Society (CLS) sued the University of California Hastings College of the Law because CLS wished to exclude gay and non-Christian students. In June, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected CLS’ challenge and held that public universities are free to require funded student groups to comply with non-discrimination policies. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit to determine whether any additional issues remained to be resolved in the case. The Ninth Circuit ruled today that the case is over and that the Supreme Court’s opinion upholding Hastings’ policy stands as the final judgment in the case.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, along with cooperating counsel Paul Smith of Jenner & Block LLP, represents Hastings Outlaw, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student organization at Hastings, which intervened in the case to defend the constitutionality of the non-discrimination policy. Hastings College of the Law is represented by Gregory Garre of Latham & Watkins LLP and Ethan Schulman of Crowell & Moring LLP.

Statement by Shannon Minter, Esq., NCLR Legal Director:

“Today’s ruling brings a welcome close to six years of intense litigation, including a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court affirming that colleges and universities may adopt non-discrimination policies that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. Hastings Law School did not adopt its non-discrimination policy to suppress any group’s freedom of speech, but only to ensure that all campus organizations are open to all students. Now that the Supreme Court’s decision is final, colleges and universities have a green light to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to participate in student activities, without fear of being threatened with litigation by anti-gay groups.”

Gay Students and College Employees Face Significant Harassment, Report Says

September 15, 2010

by Sara Lipka | Chronicle for Higher Education

Whether they are students, staff members, professors, or administrators, people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender report significant harassment at their colleges and discomfort with the overall campus climates, according to a new national report.

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Gay, Lesbian College Presidents Form New Group

August 10, 2010

by Scott Jaschik | USA Today

Nine college and university presidents gathered in Chicago over the weekend and decided to form a new organization that will promote the professional development of gay academics as well as work on education and advocacy issues.

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U.S. Education Secretary Duncan Commemorates 38th Anniversary of Title IX

June 24, 2010

from the U.S. Department of Education

On the 38th anniversary of Title IX, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan applauded the landmark legislation that prohibits institutions receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of sex.

“As a result of Title IX, schools, colleges and universities have made great strides in providing equal access in their programs and services, especially in college sports,” Secretary Duncan said. “For example, in 1972, less than 30,000 female students participated in sports and recreational programs at NCAA member institutions. Thanks largely to Title IX, that number has increased six-fold since then–and at the high school level, the number of girls participating in athletics has increased ten-fold since 1972.”

Despite significant progress in providing equal athletic opportunities, Secretary Duncan stressed the need for vigilance to ensure that students in schools and colleges are protected from discrimination on the basis of their sex on the wide array of issues covered by Title IX. “Our Office for Civil Rights will continue to vigorously enforce Title IX and work to ensure equality for all,” Secretary Duncan said. “Compliance challenges with Title IX remain–and we will not rest until they have been addressed.”

In addition to reaffirming the importance of protecting access to equal athletic opportunities, Secretary Duncan stressed his commitment to ensuring equal access in traditionally under-represented STEM fields and to safe learning environments free from violence and assault. In the upcoming year, OCR will develop policy guidance in key Title IX areas covering sexual harassment and violence, pregnancy, and STEM.

“It’s so important that we get this right,” Secretary Duncan said, “because Title IX has provided large economic benefits that stretch far beyond the playing field.” One rigorous study by Wharton professor Betsey Stevenson found that up to 40 percent of the overall rise in employment among women in the 25 to 34 year-old group was attributable to Title IX. Since March, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has initiated two compliance reviews to address issues involving sexual assault and violence in high school and college. It has also initiated two compliance reviews examining the athletic programs of a high school and college to ensure that girls and women are receiving equitable athletic opportunities.

In upcoming months, OCR will initiate five additional compliance reviews–including one that will review STEM programs at the secondary level. Access to STEM is an important priority not just within the Office for Civil Rights–but for the Department as a whole. For example, the only competitive priority in the Race to the Top program awards points to states that create high-quality plans for rigorous STEM courses, work with community partners capable of supporting high-quality STEM instruction, and prepare more students for advanced study and careers in STEM–including addressing barriers to STEM careers for underrepresented groups, such as women and girls.

In April, OCR issued guidance strengthening Title IX’s application to athletics. The new policy made clear that OCR will look at a variety of factors in determining whether a school or university is adequately assessing the athletic interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex. The prior policy had permitted a school or university to rely on a single survey in order to assess interests and abilities. At the time, Secretary Duncan said that “Title IX is one of the great civil rights success stories in education.”

For further information about Title IX and OCR, please visit,

Archdiocese Of Boston Welcomes Children Of Gay Parents In Schools

May 17, 2010

by G. Jeffrey MacDonald| Huffington Post

The Archdiocese of Boston says that children of same-sex couples are welcome in its schools, after a local school rejected a student with lesbian parents.

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Coming Out May Cost ROTC Student

May 7, 2010

by Sharif Durhams | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Port Washington High School graduate Sara Isaacson worked for the past eight years toward the goal of becoming an Army doctor like her grandfather. She said she knew she was giving up that dream when she made the decision in January to tell the leader of her Army ROTC program that she is a lesbian.

The University of North Carolina senior’s decision might also cost her $79,265.14 – the price of seven semesters of out-of-state tuition, books and others expenses, all paid for by an Army ROTC scholarship.

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights Stands Up for LGBT Youth With the National Day for Silence

April 16, 2010

Today hundreds of thousands of students nationwide will stay silent to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) name-calling, bullying, and harassment in their schools as part of the Day of Silence.

“Today my kids are participating in Day of Silence and our 13-year-old son Julian helped to organize events at his school,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Seeing my kids and knowing of the thousands of others around the country standing up for inclusion, safety and dignity inspires me to redouble our commitment to never stop working until every kid feels embraced and secure.”

Research shows that anti-LGBT harassment and violence affects all students. According to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey nearly nine out of 10 LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and more than 30 percent report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety.  The Day of Silence is designed to illustrate the silencing effect bullying and harassment has on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT, to let students who experience such bullying know that they are not alone, and to ask schools to take action to address this problem.

The annual event has become the largest single student-led action focused on creating safer schools for all and since it first started in 1996, it has had a positive impact on the lives of innumerable LGBT youth.

The Day of Silence is one element of a coordinated national movement that NCLR is a part of, made up of students, advocates, parents, teachers, administrators, and policy makers working everyday to encourage schools to implement proven solutions to address anti-LGBT harassment and violence. NCLR joins partner organizations to support Gay-Straight Alliances in schools, urge the adoption of anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies that protect LGBT youth and allies, and provide trainings to school staff to identify and address anti-LGBT name calling and harassment, in addition to creating factually accurate and inclusive curricula to help students understand and respect differences.

“Today we stand with the students who speak volumes with their silence, standing up for their fellow students’ basic right to an education free from hate and harassment,” said NCLR Youth Project Director Jody Marksamer. “Today students across the country are silent.  Tomorrow and throughout the rest of the year we will continue to work hand-in-hand to bring us closer to living in a world where all LGBT young people can grow, thrive, and live authentic lives free of violence and discrimination.”

NCLR was the first LGBT legal organization to introduce a Youth Project. Since 1993, NCLR’s Youth Project has worked to ensure that all LGBTQ young people are safe and can live openly with the support they need to reach their full potential. As leading advocates, NCLR urges national leaders to support policies and legislation that improve the quality and accessibility of education in our nation’s schools and create safe schools. NCLR supports the passage of  the Student Non-Discrimination Act(H.R. 4530), which would establish a nationwide comprehensive prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, NCLR supports the reauthorization of  the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with key additions focused on supporting healthy school climates and positive approaches to discipline.