The U.S. Department of Education has opened a civil-rights investigation into how LGBTQ students are disciplined at Brigham Young University, a private religious school.
As the Salt Lake Tribune reports, this comes after the school said it would still enforce a ban on same-sex dating even after that section was removed from the school's written honor code.
A university spokeswoman acknowledged the investigation but said in a statement that BYU is within its rights to enforce the church's policies against same-sex relationships and does not anticipate any further action. The school does have religious exemptions from sex discrimination laws.
Students at the university can be punished for kissing or holding hands with someone of the same sex, and the discipline can be harsher than that faced by heterosexual couples at the university.
BYU is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Located in Provo, Utah, the university was founded in 1875 by Brigham Young, the second president of the Mormon church.
Michael Austin, a graduate of Brigham Young University and the vice president of a private Methodist school in Indiana called the University of Evansville told the Salt Lake Tribune that this type of federal investigation is rare at church-owned schools.
“It’s really significant that investigators are stepping in now,” Austin said.
According to Austin the federal government typically steps in when there appears to be serious or systemic issues.