A small Christian college in Missouri has sued the Biden administration over a federal directive that threatens to force the school to put biological men and women in the same dorms, rooms and showers.
The lawsuit challenges an executive order President Biden signed in his first days in office that requires entities covered by the Fair Housing Act to not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity then issued a directive to enforce the new standard, which the lawsuit claims will force religious schools to “violate their beliefs by opening up female dorms to biological males and vice versa.”
A complaint to HUD and a finding of the school to be in violation would threaten “heavy fines, punitive damages and attorney fees,” according to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative nonprofit that is representing the school in federal court in Missouri.
The College of the Ozarks and its associated K-12 magnet school are located in Point Lookout, Missouri. The college has an enrollment of about 1,500 undergraduates.
“The government cannot and should not force schools to open girls dorms to males based on its politically motivated and inappropriate redefinition of ‘sex,’” ADF senior counsel Julie Marie Blake said. “Women shouldn’t be forced to share private spaces — including showers and dorm rooms — with males, and religious schools shouldn’t be punished simply because of their beliefs about marriage and biological sex.”
The College of the Ozarks requested a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would allow it to operate as is while the issue is adjudicated.
The motions come at a time transexual activists are demanding more protection and access to facilities corresponding to their chosen gender.
The ADF also is involved in lawsuits concerning transexual participation in athletic events, where it argues that biological males have an advantage over biological women who have less testosterone and muscle development.
Transexual advocates contend that there is no difference between birth gender and chosen gender. They argue that a woman who believes she is a man is for all intents and purposes a man.
The Biden administration based its directive on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, a civil rights case that extended employment and job discrimination protections to gay or transgender people.
Ryan Bangert, also an ADF senior counsel, argued that the high court’s ruling narrowly applied to workplaces.
“This directive from HUD is a breathtaking example of administrative overreach,” Ms. Bangert said.
The College of the Ozarks is not aware of any complaints made against it as of Friday.
The directive was issued Feb. 11 by Jeanine Worden, the acting assistant undersecretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Ms. Worden ordered all HUD offices to review any complaint that had been filed related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
While colleges and universities are not mentioned in the directive, HUD has long considered college dorms to be dwellings under its fair housing rules.
HUD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In another court battle, Hunter v. Department of Education, religious schools are being targeted by LGBTQ activists in a class-action lawsuit that seeks to strip religious protections from schools. The plaintiffs want to make it illegal for federal financial assistance to students to be spent at any school where religious principles apply to sexual orientation.
The College of the Ozarks does not discriminate in terms of admissions, though all students must adhere to a code of conduct while enrolled, Mr. Bangert said.