Federal Judge Roseanne Ketchmark of the District Court of Western Missouri recently ruled against the College of the Ozarks, a private Christian college, which had sued President Joe Biden’s administration over his “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation” Jan. 20 executive order.
The College of the Ozarks filed their lawsuit against Biden and the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the order, saying that the administration was forcing religious schools to violate ideological beliefs and place biological males into female dormitories. While the school upholds the belief that all people should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual beliefs, but that biological sex is assigned by God and unchangeable, whether it differs from their internal sense of “gender identity” or not.
The lawsuit argues that the federal directive “chills” the speech of those who seek to engage in private religious expression through statements, notices, housing applications, housing programs, and student handbooks on the basis of sex. They said that it requires private religious colleges to place biological males into female dormitories and to assign them as female roommates, which goes against the school’s rule prohibiting male students from female dorms (and vice-versa). If this isn’t an unconstitutional attack against freedom of religion and an overreach of government interference, then I don’t know what is.
The college currently seeks to develop citizens of Christ-like character, including those who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriot. It does not charge tuition and all students are required to work while in school to pay for their education. Admissions are based on a target of having 90% of students qualify for financial aid. Unmarried students are required to live on campus during freshman year and can apply to move off-campus, starting sophomore year.
The transgender discrimination policy prevents schools from denying children access to bathrooms “of their choosing,” which the college argues against. They said females should not have to be forced to share shower spaces and dorms with biological males, adding that it goes against practicing their beliefs.
Senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit advocacy group, Julie Marie Blake shared her thoughts regarding the ruling and claimed that the Biden’s Administration overreach continues to victimize women, girls, and people of faith, by gutting their legal protections and trying to penalize those for practicing their beliefs.
Judge Ketchmark said that the school would not be protected from any liability related to unfair housing allegations and that they would face six-figure fines if they violate the Biden Administration’s order.
“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 biological sex,” Blake said.
College of the Ozarks Chief Communications Officer Valerie Coleman said that she was disappointed in the ruling, but that they will appeal Ketchmark’s decision and continue to fight for their religious beliefs.
The school’s president Jerry Davis acknowledged that they will not abandon their mission and that the fight to protect religious freedom has just begun. “Religious freedom is under attack in America, and we won’t stand on the sidelines and watch. To threaten religious freedom is to threaten America itself. College of the Ozarks will not allow politicians to erode this essential American right or the ideals that shaped America’s founding,” he said.
The constitution protects the rights of faith-based institutions and freedom by separating power and limiting government. This is not how our constitution designed our system to work – and the Biden Administration knows that.