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Three Christian higher education institutions are petitioning a federal district court to allow them to intervene as defendants in a lawsuit challenging the religious exemption to Title IX, a nearly 50-year-old law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at federally funded colleges.

More than 30 former and current students at Christian colleges filed the lawsuit against the Department of Education. They argue that the exemption to Title IX for religious institutions as it’s applied to LGBTQ+ students is unconstitutional and has left LGBTQ+ students unprotected in the face of their colleges’ discriminatory policies.

The students in the suit attended or sought attendance at one of about two dozen Christian colleges. These colleges are identified in the suit, but are not parties to it.

Three additional Christian higher education institutions that are not mentioned in the suit -- Corban University, William Jessup University and Phoenix Seminary -- filed a motion with the court last week asking for the right to intervene in the suit to defend the religious exemption to Title IX.

“The very existence of Title IX’s Religious Exemption is at stake here, yet none of the current parties are religious educational institutions that benefit from this exemption,” their motion states.

They add, “The Court should not assess the Religious Exemption’s constitutionality without hearing from the very institutions the exemption was designed to protect.”