Christian college loses plea to keep men out of women's dorms

The U.S. Court of Appeals gave the green light for students to potentially room with students of the opposite sex at a Christian college.

CofO challenged the Department of Housing and Urban Development after a memo was issued in Feb. 2021 that prohibited discrimination of 'gender identity or sexual orientation' under the Fair Housing Act.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled against the College of the Ozarks’s (CofO) lawsuit against the Biden administration’s directive that universities permit student housing based on gender identity. 

The court ruled against the Christian college in Point Lookout, Missouri, on July 27. CofO filed the suit in 2021. 

CofO challenged the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) after a memo was issued in Feb. 2021 that prohibited discrimination of “gender identity or sexual orientation” under the Fair Housing Act.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented the college, alleged that the order violated religious liberty by forcing religious schools to open “their dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to members of the opposite sex.”

The appellate court, however, upheld a lower ruling to toss the case on the basis that the college lacked sufficient standing to sue.

[RELATED: Transgender student files complaint against Christian university for not letting him in male dorms]

“The district court ruled that the College lacked standing to establish a case or controversy and dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction,” the July 27 ruling stated. “The College appeals, and we affirm.”

According to a statement provided to Campus Reform by ADF Senior Counsel Matt Bowman, ADF is “considering all legal options.” 

“While we are disappointed about the decision, we will continue to advocate for College of the Ozark’s freedom to operate and educate students consistent with its faith-based mission. And College of the Ozarks will continue to follow that mission and serve its students well,” Bowman’s statement read. 

The HUD directive came as a result of a 2021 executive order that standardized protection for the LGBT community. The order ruled that federal regulations including Title IX and the Federal Housing Act must include transgender and gay individuals under sex-based discrimination.

The order, one of the first of the Biden White House, was built atop the Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton Countywhich expanded the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

CofO’s self-described mission is to “develop citizens of Christlike character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic.”

[RELATED: How ‘gender inclusion’ policies exclude women’s safety]

But while the college fights to keep traditional gender-based housing, other universities are attempting to adopt gender-inclusive policies.

Last fall, Campus Reform reported that the University of North Dakota proposed a “gender inclusion” mandate that would have prohibited the university from discriminating against gender identity.

Last semester, the University of Toledo, in Ohio, also introduced a policy allowing students to share dormitories, bathrooms, and locker rooms regardless of biological sex.

Campus Reform contacted the College of the Ozarks, HUD, and ADF for comment and will update accordingly.

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