A federal judge this week rejected a Christian college's request to bypass new rules under the Biden administration that force religious schools to open their dormitories — including shared bedrooms and shower spaces — to members of the opposite sex.
Judge Roseann Ketchmark issued the ruling Wednesday denying the College of the Ozarks a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, which would have provided temporary protection for the school while its federal court case is pending.
The school filed a lawsuit in April arguing that the Biden administration was forcing religious schools to violate their beliefs by opening up female dormitories to biological males, and vice-versa, under subject of punitive damages, six-figure fines, and attorneys' fees.
After President Joe Biden issued an executive order titled, "Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation" in January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development put forward a directive in line with the administration's new interpretation of "sex."
The directive holds that entities covered by the Fair Housing Act cannot discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Meaning that a transgender person who is biologically male but identifies as a female must be permitted to share dormitory spaces such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and showers with female students.
"The government cannot and should not force schools to open girls' dorms to males based on its politically motivated and inappropriate redefinition of 'sex,'" Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake said in a statement. The religious liberty law firm is representing the school in its legal fight.
"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," she added. "Government overreach by the Biden administration continues to victimize women, girls, and people of faith by gutting their legal protections, and it must be stopped."
The College of the Ozarks is a private, Christian, liberal arts college in Point Lookout, Missouri, that since its founding more than a century ago has held to a belief that biological sex is assigned by God and is unchangeable.
In response to the ruling, the school's president, Jerry Davis, acknowledged he and staff were "disappointed" in the ruling, but announced that they would be appealing "so that schools are not forced to open women's dorm rooms to males and violate their religious beliefs."
"For more than 100 years, College of the Ozarks has provided a distinctly Christian education to students with financial need. We will not abandon our mission. The fight to protect our religious freedom has just begun," he said.