The College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri is continuing its fight against a Biden policy forcing women to share dorms, bathrooms, and other public spaces with biological males.
The Christian college filed a lawsuit against a memorandum ordering the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to enforce the Fair Housing Act, which does not allow entities to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The school filed a complaint in April against the February 11 memorandum, but a judge dismissed its lawsuit.
Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has agreed to expedite arguments in the lawsuit for a hearing set for November, the Christian Post reported. The Christian college maintained that the Biden policy violates their First Amendment rights, arguing that the memorandum “was issued without observance of procedure required by law, and is contrary to law, arbitrary, capricious, in excess of statutory jurisdiction, and contrary to constitutional rights.”
The College of the Ozarks added that the memorandum “requires private religious colleges to place biological males into female dormitories and to assign them as females’ roommates.” They said that the directive prohibits “all regulated entities, including the College” from “discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity both in occupancy of their dwellings and in policies governing those dwellings.”
The directive also prevents the school from mandating its students to be placed in dorms “based on their biological sex.”
College officials said that for years, students have been separated in dorms, bathrooms, and other “intimate spaces” based on their biological sex. They also claimed that the HUD “failed to take into consideration the College or other entities with similar student housing policies in promulgating the Directive.”
The Christian college’s case was dismissed in June, when U.S. District Judge Roseann A. Ketchmark, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, said that the Ozarks failed to demonstrate how the memorandum caused “a concrete and particularized harm that is actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.”
The Christian college argued that the new memorandum would violate its First Amendment rights, as it “would suffer immeasurable harm to its religious exercise, its free speech, and its students’ privacy interests.” They believe that abandoning its code of conduct “jeopardizes the College’s ability to function, harms students, and dissuades them from attending the College,” Inside Higher Ed reported.
Alliance Defending Freedom’s senior counsel Julie Marie Blake, who represents the College of the Ozarks, explained that the school, also known as “Hard Work U,” does not charge tuition and welcomes students “who agree to follow its code of conduct” and is targeted at those who have “the most financial need.”
She added that threatening the school with “ruinous fines that could be in the six figures” will endanger its much needed public service.
The Christian college lamented that the new directive will most likely cause “investigations, enforcement actions, and litigation that could impose costly discovery and legal fees, millions in penalties and punitive damages, and criminal penalties against the College and its employees.”