A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit brought by LGBTQ students who allege the Department of Education fails to protect them against discrimination from more than two dozen religiously affiliated colleges that receive federal funding.

Last year, the group of current and former college students filed the lawsuit in an attempt to challenge religious exemptions granted under Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities that receive federal funds.

The plaintiffs alleged that, by design, the waivers allow religiously affiliated institutions to discriminate against students based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Judge Ann Aiken of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, Eugene Division, an appointee for former President Bill Clinton, wrote in her decision that the students «sufficiently alleged» that the waivers allow «religiously affiliated schools to use religious waivers to deny federally funded educational services to current and prospective students.» However, Aiken added, the students failed to prove congressional intent behind the waivers and dismissed the case.

“The plaintiffs have not raised allegations of discriminatory motivation by those who promulgate the religious exemption,” he wrote in his decision. «Instead, the plaintiffs argue that when Congress enacted Title IX, the protections or discrimination against sexual and gender minorities — were ‘of no concern.'»

Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative legal advocacy group that represents religiously affiliated colleges, welcomed the judge’s decision, saying Title IX exemptions protect «the freedom of religious schools to live out their deep and sincere convictions.»

“A group of activists asked the court to remove that protection from schools that educate the next generation and promote the common good,” David Cortman, an attorney for ADF, said in a statement Thursday. «The court correctly concluded that the Title IX religious liberty exemption does not violate any of the rights claimed by the plaintiffs.»

ADF has a long history of advocating and litigating cases against pro-LGBTQ causes.

The legal group representing the students, the Religious Exemptions Accountability Project, criticized the judge’s decision and said it was considering an appeal.

«Because of today’s decision, tens of thousands of LGBTQIA+ students across the country will continue to face discrimination at universities that receive taxpayer money,» the group said in a statement Friday.

Some of the plaintiffs alleged that they were denied admission to or expelled from religiously affiliated colleges due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Others claimed the institutions subjected them to the discredited practice of conversion therapy.

Veronica Bonifacio Penales, a Baylor University senior who was part of the lawsuit, said the decision «feels like a slap in the face.»

«Obviously, the fight doesn’t end here,» he said. “We’re not even going to let this stop us. If anything, this will push us to work a little harder.”

A representative for the Department of Education did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment on the judge’s decision.