Anti-trans Christian college loses first round of legal battle against Biden administration
A US Christian college has lost an initial court ruling in a fight against Joe Biden’s non-discrimination directive on trans students’ housing.
College of the Ozarks, a small Christian arts college in Missouri, is fighting a lawsuit to exclude trans people from housing after a Department of Housing and Urban Development memo required colleges not to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.
The school says that treating trans women as women or trans men as men in where they are housed violates their Christian beliefs as well as their constitutional religious freedom protections.
The February executive order issued by the Biden administration ensures LGBT+ people are protected from discrimination in federally funded housing, and because colleges get government money through student loans they are subject to federal housing laws.
College of the Ozarks had asked for a temporary injunction and restraining order while its federal case was waiting to be heard. This request was denied by a federal court.
“The Biden Administration’s policy forces College of the Ozarks to decide between defending its religious liberty from government overreach or violating our core beliefs,” college president Jerry C. Davis said in a press release.
“While we are disappointed in today’s ruling, we expect to appeal so that schools are not forced to open women’s dorm rooms to males and violate their religious beliefs,” said Davis.
“For more than 100 years, College of the Ozarks has provided a distinctly Christian education to students with financial need. We will not abandon our mission. The fight to protect our religious freedom has just begun.”
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Lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a right-wing law firm that opposes LGBT+ rights and abortion, argue that being required not to discriminate against trans students violates the college’s religious beliefs on biological sex.
Ryan Bangert, vice president for legal strategy at ADF, told Forbes in April that the ADF was founded in 1993 “for the purpose of keeping the doors open for the gospel”.
“The school believes that the bible teaches that people are created as males and females,” Bangert added. “We’re designed by God in that way and the school honours that by housing men and women separately.”
The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) designates the ADF as a hate group, based on its position on LGBT+ rights and women’s rights.
According to the SPLC, the ADF wants to recriminalise consensual sex between LGBT+ adults in the US, defends forcing trans people to be sterilised in other countries, has stated that LGBT+ people are more likely to be paedophiles, and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society.