The College of The Ozarks, a small Christian college that TUSEN dubbed the “Bible Belt Ivy,” is suing the Biden administration in federal court. The lawsuit challenges a February decree issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that ensures LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination in federally funded housing. Since colleges receive money from the government in the form of student loans, grants, and contracts, they are subject to fair housing laws.
The University of 1,500 students in Point Lookout, Missouri, is represented by lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a powerful nonprofit advocacy group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., For conservative legal causes. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama, has named the ADF a hate group.
“ADF was founded in 1993 with the aim of keeping the doors open to the Gospel,” explains Group Vice President of Legal Strategy Ryan Bangert. In its lawsuit for the College of the Ozarks, the ADF aims to protect the school’s ability to prevent transgender students from living in dormitories that match those students’ gender identities. “The school believes the Bible teaches that people are created as men and women,” he says. “We are designed by God this way and the school honors that by accommodating men and women separately.”
A 2018 TUSEN article describes how the College of the Ozarks reached number 270 on TUSEN’ Best Colleges list. The school’s 91% admissions yield (the percentage of admitted students who decide to attend) is greater than Harvard’s 82%, and its endowment of $ 272,000 per student is greater than that of Georgetown and NYU. . It attracts students in part because the tuition is free. Known as “Hard Work U”, it requires all registrants to devote 15 hours per week to a job on campus.
Colleges have become a battleground for LGBTQ rights. Earlier this week, the NCAA, the nonprofit that governs college sports, threatened to withdraw championship games from schools in states that pass anti-LGBTQ laws. And at the end of March, LGBTQ students filed a federal class action lawsuit against the US Department of Education, claiming they suffered discrimination at 25 Christian colleges, including giant Liberty University, founded by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell. . Complainants claim colleges violate their constitutional right to be free from discrimination while schools claim they are entitled to a religious exemption from federal civil rights law known as Title IX.
Liberty, a school of more than 100,000 students in Lynchburg, Virginia, has been embroiled in its own scandal over the conduct of Jerry Falwell, Jr., who resigned as president last year. Liberty yesterday filed a $ 10 million lawsuit against Falwell, claiming he breached his contract and breached his fiduciary duty by disclosing damaging board information.
ADF’s Bangert Says LGBTQ Litigation Stems From Landmark Supreme Court Decision Of June 2020 In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. The Court ruled that Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act protects lesbian, gay and transgender workers. “It is very clear that the court did not want this to be a radical reorganization of American society and apply to dormitories,” he says.
Paul Carlos Southwick, who represents LGBTQ student plaintiffs in challenging the constitutional anti-discrimination law at Christian universities, says he worked at ADF “when I myself was a fundamentalist locked in.” He says the ADF’s representation of the College of the Ozarks “it all comes down to money” because Christian colleges are so worried about being cut from federal funds. Since 75% of Americans support LGBTQ rights, he says, religious colleges “want to take these cases to the Supreme Court before it’s too late.” Although the court has ruled for LGBTQ complainants Bostick, since then Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been replaced by Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic who ADF paid five times to speak at a summer training program for Christian law students, starting in 2011 .
Another turn of the costume from the College of the Ozarks: “Their approach to sex and gender completely negates the very idea that someone is transgender or that gender identity is anything real,” Southwick says. “It could end up being a ridiculous circumstance where you have a young transgender man on testosterone who looks rather masculine and is attracted to women, living with a whole bunch of college girls. Is this really what they want?