Court affirms dismissal of Christian school’s lawsuit against Biden policy on gender identity discrimination

There is a concerted effort by some, including President Joe Biden’s administration, to coerce and force the broader American society not only to accept but also fully embrace and proactively accommodate the desires and needs of transgender individuals — even if such accommodations would seemingly infringe upon and violate the rights, wants, and needs of others in society.

A federal appeals court panel just sided with that effort by ruling against a Christian college that sued the Biden administration over an alleged imminent violation of its religious liberty rights, Campus Reform reported.

Missouri’s College of the Ozarks had filed its lawsuit in anticipation of potential adverse action against it by the Biden administration over its strict single-sex housing regulations for students, which the administration has strongly signaled are discriminatory against transgender students.

Biden order on gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination

At the heart of the matter is an executive order President Biden issued on his first day in office to address alleged discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, specifically with regard to education and housing, among other things.

That executive order relied heavily upon a 2020 Supreme Court decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, which determined that the prohibition against discrimination based on “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 included discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

From that order flowed a Feb. 2021 memo from a division of the Department of Housing and Urban Development that applied the high court’s ruling to reinterpret its regulations against discrimination under the Fair Housing Act to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

Lawsuit filed but dismissed

Campus Reform noted that the executive order and HUD memo prompted the lawsuit from the College of the Ozarks in 2021, which argued that its rights to religious freedom were in danger of being violated and that it would be forced by the government to open “their dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to members of the opposite sex.”

A district court judge dismissed the lawsuit for lack of standing, however, which led to an appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court, but the suit met the same fate there as well.

By a 2-1 vote, a three-judge panel upheld the district court’s dismissal and affirmed that College of the Ozarks had no standing to sue the Biden administration over the executive order and HUD memo.

The majority opinion explained that the HUD memo didn’t actually constitute a rule change under the Administrative Procedure Act, and even if it did, the college had not suffered any actual harm since the administration hadn’t yet attempted to enforce the new rule as well as that the college would likely be exempted from enforcement under certain provisions regarding religious freedom.

Further appeal to Supreme Court under consideration

The College of the Ozarks had been represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom law firm, and Senior Counsel Matt Bowman told Campus Reform that his firm was “considering all legal options” following this appeals court ruling.

“While we are disappointed about the decision, we will continue to advocate for College of the Ozark’s freedom to operate and educate students consistent with its faith-based mission,” Bowman said in the statement. “And College of the Ozarks will continue to follow that mission and serve its students well.”

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