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Religious Exemption

image title: title ix religious exemption
Under the Title IX statute and its implementing regulation at 34 C.F.R. § 106.12, Title IX does not apply to an educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization to the extent that application of Title IX would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization. 

An institution will normally be considered to be controlled by a religious organization if one or more of the following conditions is true:

  • (1) It is a school or department of divinity, defined as an institution or a department or branch of an institution whose program is specifically for the education of students to prepare them to become ministers of religion or to enter upon some other religious vocation, or to prepare them to teach theological subjects; or
  • (2) It requires its faculty, students or employees to be members of, or otherwise espouse a personal belief in, the religion of the organization by which it claims to be controlled; or
  • (3)   Its charter and catalog, or other official publication, contains explicit statement that it is controlled by a religious organization or an organ thereof or is committed to the doctrines of a particular religion, and the members of its governing body are appointed by the controlling religious organization or an organ thereof, and it receives a significant amount of financial support from the controlling religious organization or an organ thereof.
An educational institution that wishes to claim the exemption may do so by submitting in writing to the Assistant Secretary a statement by the highest ranking official of the institution, identifying the religious organization that controls the educational institution and specifying the provisions of Title IX or its regulations that conflict with the tenets of the religious organization.  A claim for a religious exemption may be mailed to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington D.C. 20202 or emailed to OCR@ed.gov.

Links to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and its implementing regulations:

Historical documents related to OCR’s process for evaluating religious exemption:

  • Smith Memo - October 11, 1989 PDF 907.5K
  • Singleton Memo - August 2, 1985 PDF 2.9M
  • Singleton Memo - February 19, 1985 PDF 2.8M
  • HEW Form 639-A - 1977 PDF 617.4K

For a listing of the religious exemption requests that OCR has received and OCR’s response to each request, please visit our index pages:

Additionally, this chart lists all of the institutions that currently hold a religious exemption and all those that have a religious exemption request pending with OCR.

To search for a specific letter or institution, please use the search box below.

You may search by any of the categories listed below. Type your search term(s) into the search window box above. If performing a multiple category search, place a semi-colon (;) after each search term. Click the 'Search' button to initiate your document search. The documents provided are current through the most recent upload date on the index page.

  1. Search by: Name of Institution(e.g. John Doe University, XYZ High School)
  2. Search by: State (Full name, e.g. Alabama, California, etc.)
  3. Search by: Regulation cited (e.g. §106.21, §106.22, etc.)
  4. Search by: Request or Response
  5. Search by: Date of letter (format: mmddyyyy or yyyy)

For your convenience, we have also compiled the religious exemption requests and responses into four documents that may be downloaded without searching for each institution’s letter individually.

Compiled religious exemption documents:

  • Requests received prior to 2009 PDF 171MB
  • Responses sent prior to 2009 PDF 145MB
  • Requests received from 2009-Present PDF 104MB
  • Responses sent from 2009-Present PDF 26MB

Some of the documents linked on this page were not generated by the Department of Education, or are scanned copies of older Departmental documents. Each document generated by the Department after January 1, 2009 is a PDF that contains, at a minimum, machine readable text. If you are a person with a disability who cannot fully access the contents of a document on this page, please contact OCR@ed.gov

Last Modified: 11/15/2016