Justice Department Might Penalize Christian College For Transgender Policy

Jul 30, 2014 by

Two months ago, the Department of Education gave George Fox University, a Quaker school in Oregon, a Title IX exemption on religious grounds from having to house an anatomically female transgender student in male housing. The department turned down that student’s appeal this month, as The College Fix reported.

Now, the Justice Department is weighing whether that same policy violates “nondiscrimination requirements in federal housing law,” a situation without precedent, The New York Times reports in an examination of the challenges faced by universities in housing transgender students.

The report notes that the Department of Education has granted three exemptions this year, the first time it’s had to consider the issue – entirely because the Obama administration “clearly adopted the position” in a middle-school case last year that Title IX requires schools to “accept a student’s gender self-identification, regardless of anatomy.” The other exempted Christian schools are California’s Simpson University and Michigan’s Spring Arbor University.

While Christian colleges are bearing the brunt of this legal wrangling, it’s a situation that most secular schools will have to face before long, the Times says:

No college mentioned transgender people in its nondiscrimination policy until the 1990s, and most still do not. A small number have decided not to segregate housing or restrooms by sex, eliminating much of the need to determine who is female or male. Usually, it is not a matter of the colleges’ having policies that explicitly discriminate, but that “they haven’t really thought about it, they don’t have a stated policy and they would make decisions on a case-by-case basis,” said Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who also tracks transgender policies at colleges around the country for Campus Pride, a national gay rights group.

George Fox University, which maintains an extensive history of the dispute with its student – who has apparently changed his named to “Jaycen” from “Jayce N.” as identified in earlier reports – says its faith-based policy remains that unmarried opposite-sex students can’t live together:

The university says it will regard Jaycen as male if he undergoes [sex-reassignment] surgery. “For 123 years, our housing policy has been to house students by their anatomy,” Mr. Felton said, adding that is “a question that a lot of institutions, religious and nonreligious, are struggling with.”

The student implies that his testosterone therapy makes him a sexual threat to women if he lives with them:

“Living in a female dorm means that each day, the first thoughts I have are about my struggles living in a body that never felt right to me,” he said. Living there while undergoing testosterone therapy has been a particular challenge.

“I’ve got the libido of a 14-year-old boy, and I’m living with a bunch of young women,” he said. “It’s not a good recipe for promoting the kind of behavior that a Christian university expects from its students.”

The school says it’s bent over backwards to accommodate Jaycen, meeting with him throughout the year, using the male pronoun out of respect for his feelings and offering him an “on-campus single apartment or the option to live off campus” rather than live in male-only housing.

via Justice Department Might Penalize Christian College For Transgender Policy.

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