Conservative Christian colleges, once relatively insulated from the culture war, are increasingly entangled in the same battles over LGBT rights and related social issues that have divided other institutions in America.
Students and faculty at many religious institutions are asked to accept a “faith statement” outlining the school’s views on such matters as evangelical doctrine, scriptural interpretation, and human sexuality. Those statements often include a rejection of homosexual activity and a definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Changing attitudes on sexual ethics and civil rights, however, are making it difficult for some schools, even conservative ones, to ensure broad compliance with their strict positions.
“Millennials are looking at the issue of gay marriage, and more and more they are saying, ‘OK, we know the Bible talks about this, but we just don’t see this as an essential of the faith,” says Brad Harper, a professor of theology and religious history at Multnomah University, an evangelical Christian institution in Portland, Ore.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today issued guidance clarifying the obligation of schools to provide students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with equal educational opportunity under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
“On this 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am pleased to honor Congress’ promise with guidance clarifying the rights of students with ADHD in our nation’s schools,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “The Department will continue to work with the education community to ensure that students with ADHD, and all students, are provided with equal access to education.”
Over the last five years, OCR has received more than 16,000 complaints that allege discrimination on the basis of disability in elementary and secondary education programs, and more than 10 percent involve allegations of discrimination against students with ADHD. The most common complaint concerns academic and behavioral difficulties students with ADHD experience at school when they are not timely and properly evaluated for a disability, or when they do not receive necessary special education or related aids and services.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights today announced a settlement with New Hampshire’s Manchester School District, School Administrative Unit #37, aimed at providing greater access to college and career preparatory courses for black and Latino students.
OCR examined whether the school district discriminated against black and Latino students on the basis of race or national origin by establishing policies and procedures that result in excluding these students from these programs and courses. The district’s advanced courses include honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses and dual enrollment programs that offer college credit through local post-secondary institutions. Before OCR completed its review, the district expressed an interest in voluntarily resolving this case, resulting in the agreement announced today.
Equity – the push to ensure strong educational opportunity for every student – drives everything we do at the U.S. Department of Education, and particularly in the Office for Civil Rights. From preschool enrollment to college attendance and completion, our office’s work is grounded in the belief that all students, regardless of race, gender, disability, or age, need a high-quality education to be successful.
Yet despite the gains we’ve made as a country, too many students are not receiving the education they deserve, and it is our collective duty to change that. Data is crucial to this work and helps us understand the extent of educational inequity throughout the U.S. and make informed decisions for action.
“A little over 50 years ago, our nation engaged in a loud, sometimes deadly and tumultuous discussion about civil rights. From coast to coast, Americans of all backgrounds and creeds stood together and demanded more from each other and our country. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was among the leaders of the day who relentlessly fought for equality in the face of monumental adversity and resistance.
“Time and time again, Dr. King led by example and challenged all of us to be our brother’s keeper, fighting the loudest for those with the weakest voices. As we recognize Dr. King’s birthday and his countless contributions to our world, we must remember that his fight for equality is not over. Too many students don’t have equal access to a high quality education, too many families are finding college simply too expensive to pursue, and not enough of our nation’s teachers reflect the diversity of this great country.