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Augustine-Adams said no waiver has ever been denied and that the ones issued serve as a kind of “formal assurance” that documents schools' exemption.
Abilene Christian has no plans to apply for a waiver.
Some of the state's most prominent religiously affiliated schools — Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University — did not have exemptions as of that year.
The religious exemptions have been used to exclude “women from particular courses of study that are designed to further priesthood or ordination” or to offer different counseling for male and female students about their career trajectories, said Kif Augustine-Adams, a law professor at Brigham Young University.
But the school’s website has already been updated to say that certain student employees — those “asked to exemplify and support the university’s mission” — will be barred from dating people of the same sex, just like faculty and staff have been for years.
More than 253 exemptions, including for East Texas Baptist University and Howard Payne University, had been granted by 2016.
When Ryan Clements, a 25-year-old alumnus of Abilene Christian University, found out his alma mater was planning to ban some students’ same-sex dating relationships, he said it “hit home in a big way.” Clements, an openly gay Christian, said he felt pained “that a school that I loved and that gave me so much and that I tried to pour myself into when I was there would take this kind of action against students like me.” The private college in West Texas, affiliated with Churches of Christ, said earlier this month it would bar student employees from dating people of the same sex.
The policy already applies to faculty and staff at Abilene Christian.
"Whether you can legally do it or not, we're going to call you out on it." Clements said the members of his Facebook group, now numbering more than 1,400, hope to change Abilene Christian's policy through dialogue, not protests or threats.
“We were not sitting in those meetings with the senior leadership team, so we're not just going to assume what their intentions are,” he said.Details about which student jobs will be subject to the dating prohibition will be released in the coming months.