The US Department of Education is investigating how LGBTQ+ students are being disciplined after Brigham Young University, a religious institution, said it would enforce a ban on same-sex dating, the Associated Press reported.
Utah school students can now be punished for holding hands or kissing the same sex, and the punishment would be harsher for same-sex couples than heterosexual couples.
The school, which is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lifted its ban on “homosexual behavior” in 2020, and many students came out as part of the LGBTQ+ community, but weeks later, the school said even-sexual encounters are still prohibited, the AP reported.
The federal investigation into the case, which began late last year, is being conducted by the department’s Office of Civil Rights under Title IX, the law that protects against sex discrimination in schools.
The school maintains its position despite the investigation.
“BYU is exempt from the application of Title IX rules that conflict with the religious tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Carri Jenkins said in a statement.
It is not common for Church-owned schools to come under federal investigation.
In 2021, BYU President Kevin Worthen wrote to the DOE stating that all who attend the school agree to “voluntarily commit to live their lives in accordance with the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The DOE confirmed to the AP that the investigation is still ongoing, but did not provide further details.