In late December, a group of senators—led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, of Vermont—issued a letter to the Department of Education calling for a transparency database.

“We are concerned these waivers allow for discrimination under the guise of religious freedom,” the letter read. “Already, we have seen this same path used in our legal system to undermine benefits for women and used to facilitate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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“At a very minimum, we believe that parents, students, and taxpayers have a right to know when institutions of higher education—as recipients of tax dollars—seek and receive exemptions under Title IX as well as the justification of those exemptions,” the senators wrote.

On Wednesday, Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, said she agreed (pdf) with the senators’ concerns and announced that the government would make such a tool available within months.

Chad Griffin, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said he was “encouraged” by the news.

“We have been alarmed by the growing trend of schools quietly seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students, and not disclosing that information publicly,” Griffin said in a statement. “We are encouraged that the Department of Education is answering our call for greater transparency to help ensure no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them.

“We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however, faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination,” he added.

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