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MO Christian College Asks Supreme Court to Uphold Its Biblical Beliefs on Male and Female Dorms, Showers

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A Christian college asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to take up a case on gender identity and dorms.

A Biden administration directive would force the College of the Ozarks to allow members of the opposite sex to share rooms based on a student's gender identity.  But the private Christian institution based in Point Lookout, Missouri is fighting back. 

Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of the leading religious rights law firms in the U.S., are representing the school. They asked the high court to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that concluded the College of the Ozarks cannot sue the Biden administration for seeking to force the college to violate its religious beliefs. 

slider img 2The appeals court refused to block a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) directive that requires the college to open its dormitories – including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces – to members of the opposite sex or face fines up to six figures, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees.

The HUD rule adds "gender identity" to the definition of sex in the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The agency added it after President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Jan. 20, 2021, to all federal agencies, requiring them to redefine sex discrimination in all federal statutes to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

"College of the Ozarks should be free to follow the religious tradition on which it was founded. The government can't strip a private, faith-based institution of its constitutionally protected freedoms because it disagrees with its views about marriage and sexuality," ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch said in a statement. 

"If the 8th Circuit decision stands, College of the Ozarks could be forced to choose between violating its religious beliefs or risking intrusive federal investigations and significant enforcement penalties," Burch continued. "We hope the Supreme Court will take this case to halt the government's inappropriate order targeting religious institutions and to respect the privacy, dignity, and safety of female students."

The 8th Circuit's decision upholds a federal agency action that "skirts the rule of law and undermines our values," leaving College of the Ozarks "under a sword of Damocles" of threatened agency enforcement, Judge Leonard Steven Grasz wrote in his dissent against the ruling by his fellow appeals court judges.

The lawsuit, College of the Ozarks v. Biden, opposes the HUD directive and the executive order requiring it.

The 106-page petition filed with the Supreme Court explains the HUD directive requires the college to reverse its housing policies for 1,300 students. It states:

"And, unless the Directive is enjoined, it makes the College cease statements of its policies, preventing it from following through on ongoing plans and communications for student housing consistent with its religious beliefs. This jeopardizes the College's ability to function, causes emotional harm to students who rely on the College's housing policies, and dissuades Christian students from attending the College."

The petition also contends that the rule only allows the college to agree to one of three negative outcomes: 

"The {HUD} Directive forces the College to choose immediately between three injuries: (1) obey the government and abandon the College's religious policies and speech; (2) refuse the government and risk crippling investigations and penalties; or (3) cease providing student housing."

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Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said that even though there are significant ramifications for college women when it comes to privacy in this case, he believes this is primarily a First Amendment issue for a religious institution. 

Appearing on the Wednesday edition of CBN News' Faith Nation, Perkins explained, "You know, this is one of those cases where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to the First Amendment for a religious institution and as you pointed out, for the privacy of women." 

"So I applaud them for standing up and fighting back against this evil ideology being pushed by this administration," the FRC president said. "In fact, every American should not be silent, but speaking up, pushing back, and saying 'We're not going to have any of this.' So again, I applaud the leadership there at the College of the Ozarks." 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of