College of the Ozarks Loses Initial Court Battle Against Biden's Transgender Rules

A federal judge denied a request from Missouri's College of the Ozarks to implement a temporary injunction and restraining order against a Biden administration directive pertaining to gender identity.

The school has a federal lawsuit pending against the administration over a Department of Housing and Urban Development requirement that prevents colleges from discriminating on the basis of gender identity. The school has reiterated that the gender directive goes against their Christian beliefs as well as their constitutional religious freedom protections.

Activists in support of transgender rights praised President Joe Biden's move. However, the College of the Ozarks says it forces the school to violate their religious beliefs by opening up female dorms to biological males, and vice versa.

"The Biden Administration's policy forces College of the Ozarks to decide between defending its religious liberty from government overreach or violating our core beliefs," College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis said in a press release.

Under the HUD directive implemented by Biden, the College of the Ozarks and similar colleges can face fines of up to six figures, punitive damages, and a receipt for attorney's fees should they refuse to make the administrative changes on campus.

The lawsuit states that the HUD directive contradicts long-held judicial interpretations of the Fair Housing Act, which defines that "sex" means one's biological sex. Changes to one's gender, according to the lawsuit claims, are therefore in violation of the school's constitutionally protected freedom to practice their religious beliefs.

"While we are disappointed in today's ruling, we expect to appeal so that schools are not forced to open women's dorm rooms to males and violate their religious beliefs," said Davis in a news release Thursday. "For more than 100 years, College of the Ozarks has provided a distinctly Christian education to students with financial need. We will not abandon our mission. The fight to protect our religious freedom has just begun."

The lawsuit names U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, and Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Jeanine M. Worden in addition to the president. Lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom firm are representing the College of the Ozarks in the litigation.

"Policy pushed forward by president Biden, forces the College of the Ozarks to open its dormitories, to members of the opposite sex," said Ryan Bangert, a member of the counsel representing the school, in a statement to local news outlets last week. "The Fair Housing Act has long prohibited discrimination on several grounds, including sex. But by redefining sex, the Biden administration is twisting the fair housing act to harm young women directly."

Newsweek reached out to the school's administrative offices Sunday.

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Basic Nondescript Single Occupancy Student Dormitory Room - stock photo. A federal judge denied a request from the College of the Ozarks to implement a temporary injunction and restraining order against a Biden administration directive pertaining to gender identity. istock/Getty/Mod Quaint