Judge Denies College of Ozarks’ Request to Block Transgender Housing Directive

Judge Denies College of Ozarks’ Request to Block Transgender Housing Directive

On May 19 a federal judge denied a Missouri Christian college’s request for a preliminary injunction to block a directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that forces religious schools to open female dormitories and shower spaces to biological males who identify as transgender.

“After careful consideration of the law … the court denies the plaintiff’s motion for temporary restraining order and injunction,” Judge Roseann Ketchmark said from the bench, according to The Washington Times. “The court does find that the dispute is not justiciable.”

In January 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that states that “all persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.” The order also required all federal agencies—including HUD—to modify their policies on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity. HUD released its directive to enforce the order the following month.

In response, College of the Ozarks, a Christian college in Point Lookout, Missouri, filed suit against the Biden administration in April, arguing that the “anti-discrimination order” actually discriminates against the school for its Biblical beliefs about gender and sexuality.

During the May 19 hearing, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Julie Blake argued that Biden’s directive was a “rule change” that was enforceable and the college wanted to address it prior to any complaint.

“The college need not wait for an actual prosecution or enforcement action before challenging a law’s constitutionality,” she said.

But the judge said an effort by the college to stop HUD from applying the new directive would not protect the school from any liability related to unfair housing allegations.

Despite the loss, ADF and College of the Ozarks haven’t signaled defeat.

“While we’re disappointed by the court’s ruling this week, we are carefully evaluating all options and plan to appeal this case,” ADF Senior Counsel and VP of Legal Strategy Ryan Bangert told Decision. “We are confident that the College of the Ozarks will get the relief that it seeks as this case moves forward. The Biden Administration can’t force religious colleges and universities to open up their dormitories and showers to members of the opposite sex. We plan to continuing pursing this case until justice is restored.” 

Photo: Mark Summerfield/Alamy Stock Photo

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