In making its decision, the Department of Education cited a state law forbidding BOOST schools from discriminating in the admissions process on sexual orientation.
"Bethel has plausibly alleged that Defendants violated several of its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights in the course of deeming the school ineligible for BOOST," Stephanie Gallagher, a judge of the US District Court for the District of Maryland, wrote in her Nov. 14 ruling allowing Bethel's suit to go forward.
"Bethel has consistently maintained that the school does not discriminate in student admissions on the basis of sexual orientation," she noted, adding that in correspondence with the BOOST advisory board, Bethel explained "that it does not consider sexual orientation or sexual attraction when evaluating applications for admission."
"In fact, Defendants have not identified any student that Bethel has discriminated against in admissions on the basis of sexual orientation. As such, Bethel alleged in its complaint – which this Court accepts as true at this stage – that it 'has not, and will not, discriminate against a student in admissions based on an applicant's sexual orientation.'"
Gallagher wrote that Bethel "has plausibly alleged" that the education department "infringed upon several of its constitutional rights. Namely, Bethel has presented a plausible case that the Advisory Board's determination of ineligibility was motivated by the school's religious affiliation."
"Bethel has plausibly alleged that Defendants deemed it ineligible for BOOST not because of evidence of discrimination in admissions, but because of [its] Christian identity. In other words, it is plausible that the Advisory Board, in determining that Bethel violated the nondiscrimination provision, unjustly conflated the school's religious beliefs with discriminatory behavior."