MO college asks appeals court to halt Biden order that opens dorms, showers to opposite sex
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing College of the Ozarks asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit Friday to halt a Biden administration directive that would force the private Christian college to open up its sex-specific dorms and showers to members of the opposite sex. The request for the injunction while the case proceeds comes after a district court declined to issue one and dismissed the case.
The lawsuit challenges a directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that forces religious schools to violate their beliefs by opening their dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to members of the opposite sex. The directive accomplishes this by requiring entities covered by the Fair Housing Act to not “discriminate” based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The appeal concerns the college’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction order that would halt enforcement of the HUD directive while the lawsuit moves forward.
“It’s entirely inappropriate—as well as unconstitutional—for the government to force private religious schools to open girls’ dorm rooms to males or vice-versa,” said ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake. “President Biden is punishing religious schools, organizations, and churches simply because of their beliefs about marriage and biological sex. Schools like the College of the Ozarks are free to follow the faith tradition they represent. That’s why we are asking the 8th Circuit to halt enforcement of this unconstitutional directive while our lawsuit proceeds.”
The administration’s rule change forces religious schools to violate their beliefs by opening up female dorms to biological males and male dorms to biological females, or face fines of up to six figures, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. HUD’s reinterpretation of “sex” in the Fair Housing Act comes in light of President Biden’s executive order titled, “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” signed in January 2021.
The lawsuit, The School of the Ozarks d/b/a College of the Ozarks v. Biden, opposes the HUD directive and the executive order requiring it. The order, issued to all federal agencies, requires them to modify their policies on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The lawsuit explains that the HUD directive contradicts the historical judicial interpretation of the Fair Housing Act, which confirms that “sex” means biological sex. The suit also argues that the directive exceeds the administration’s authority and violates the constitutionally protected freedom of College of the Ozarks and similar religious institutions to operate consistently with their religious beliefs.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.