Department of Education Proposed Regulations - Religious Freedom on Campus

If you want to give comments to protect religious students’ access to public college campuses, you are in the right place. 

It is really important that the Department of Education hear from those of us who care about religious students and their organizations by February 18 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.  Comments can be very short and informal. 

How to Submit a Comment:

When you are ready to submit a comment, just click here.

Then –  

  1. In the upper right hand of the page, press “Comment Now.”
  2. Write your comment in the large blank space in the middle of the page (up to 5000 characters).
  3. At the top of your comment, type ID: ED-2019-OPE-0080-0001.
  4. If your comment is a document longer than 5000 characters or you want to include an attachment, type in the blank space, “I support the Department’s proposed regulations 34 CFR § 75.500(d) and § 76.500(d) for the reasons given in the attached comment” and upload the longer document or any other attachment below the large blank space.
  5. Fill in your first and last name. Note that your name will appear on a public webpage.
  6. Do not check the boxes regarding contact information or a third party, but choose a category.
  7. Hit “continue” to go to the next page.
  8. Check the small box indicating that you “have read and understand the statement.”
  9. Hit “submit comment.”
  10. Thank you!

Suggestions for Writing a Brief Comment:

  • Using your own words, thank the Department of Education for Proposed Regulations 34 CFR § 75.500(d)and § 76.500(d) and their protection for religious student groups’ speech, beliefs, and ability to choose leaders who share their groups’ religious beliefs.
  • Describe your college or law school experience and the religious organization(s) that you participated in as a student. For example, you could write: “I am grateful to have been part of a religious student group at _________ called __________.  It made my law school (or college) experience better because _______________________.  I am concerned, though, because I know this has been a confusing issue on some campuses.* Proposed Regulations 34 CFR § 75.500(d) and § 76.500(d) would help college administrators and students by clearing up the confusion.”
     *Include “my campus” if there was a problem at your institution when you were there or since.
  • Optional: If you want to add more substance to your comment, choose one or two of the ideas below to write about from your perspective:  
    • Share the positive influence that having a faith community as a recognized student organization had on you and other students. 
    • Share the positive activities that your group carried out on campus (e.g., clothing drives, helping at school events, bringing speakers to campus), in your community (e.g., tutoring, legal aid), or on mission trips (e.g., hurricane clean-up, domestic or international spring break trips).
  • Note the importance of having a faith community as a place to explore and express your faith during college or law school. 
  • Share the importance of having your group led by students who agreed with its religious beliefs, e.g., they led its Bible studies and worship, helped formulate its message, represented it to the law school community, etc. 
  • If applicable, respectfully and accurately describe a problem that you, your group, or someone you know encountered in expressing religious beliefs on campus or gaining recognition for their group because it required its leaders to agree with its core religious beliefs. Observe that Proposed Regulations 34 CFR § 75.500(d) and § 76.500(d) would clarify confusion and help the administrators do the right thing. 
  • Close by expressing your thanks again, e.g., “Thank you for acting to protect religious student groups so that they can continue to serve their campuses” or similar words.
  • Encourage friends who care about students’ freedom of speech and religious freedom to comment, but don’t share on social media. Short comments are fine.

Brief Background of Proposed Regulations:

For 40 years, CLS student chapters and other religious student organizations have frequently encountered problems in becoming, or remaining, recognized student organizations on public university campuses. To address this problem, the United States Department of Education recently proposed two regulations that would protect religious student organizations’ ability to remain on public university campuses.

Proposed regulation 34 CFR § 75.500(d) states (and § 76.500(d) is essentially verbatim):

“A public institution shall not deny to a religious student organization at the public institution any right, benefit, or privilege that is otherwise afforded to other student organizations at the public institution (including full access to the facilities of the public institution and official recognition of the organization by the public institution) because of the beliefs, practices, policies, speech, membership standards, or leadership standards of the religious student organization.” 85 Fed. Reg. 3190, 3223, 3226 (Jan. 17, 2020).

Would you please take a few minutes today to send an informal, brief comment to the Department expressing support for Proposed Regulations 34 CFR § 75.500(d) and § 76.500(d)? It is crucial that the Department hear from you on or before February 18.

Click here to listen to a podcast featuring Mike Schutt and Kim Colby discussing why the proposed regulations are needed.

Any questions?  Please call Kim Colby at (703) 894-1087 or email, or email Mike Schutt at Thank you!