College Asks U.S. Supreme Court for Help with Dormitory Rule

College Asks U.S. Supreme Court for Help with Dormitory Rule

The College of the Ozarks, a Christian liberal arts college in Missouri, has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to help the school uphold its Biblical convictions about only offering access to dormitories and showers consistent with students’ biological sex.

On Monday, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys representing the college requested the high court review a U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the school couldn’t sue the Biden administration for requiring the institution to operate against its religious beliefs.

The Christian college filed the lawsuit against the Biden administration in April 2021 to challenge a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation that forces colleges to allow members of the opposite sex in its dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, or face fines, punitive damages and legal fees.

The HUD directive was established after Biden signed an executive order titled, “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” which requires all federal agencies to not discriminate under the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

This order opposes the College of the Ozarks’ Biblical belief that biological sex is unchangeable and threatens its dormitory policy that students should not live with the opposite sex in residence halls.

The school’s petition to the Supreme Court states, “The [HUD] Directive requires the College to reverse its housing policies for 1,300 students. And, unless the Directive is enjoined, it makes the College cease statements of its policies, preventing it from following through on ongoing plans and communications for student housing consistent with its religious beliefs. This jeopardizes the College’s ability to function, causes emotional harm to students who rely on the College’s housing policies, and dissuades Christian students from attending the College.”

Since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has refused to block the housing directive, ADF attorneys are hopeful the Supreme Court will uphold the Christian college’s constitutional rights.

“By redefining sex in federal law to include gender identity, President Biden has grossly overreached his authority and is mandating that Christian colleges must allow boys into girls’ dorm rooms and showers, and vice versa,” said John Bursch, ADF senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy. “College of the Ozarks should be free to follow the religious tradition on which it was founded. The government can’t strip a private, faith-based institution of its constitutionally protected freedoms because it disagrees with its views about marriage and sexuality.

“If the 8th Circuit decision stands, College of the Ozarks could be forced to choose between violating its religious beliefs or risking intrusive federal investigations and significant enforcement penalties. We hope the Supreme Court will take this case to halt the government’s inappropriate order targeting religious institutions and to respect the privacy, dignity and safety of female students.”

Photo: College of the Ozarks

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