A July 14th Inside Higher Ed article highlights two cases of discrimination against transgender students that are representative of the broader ability of institutions to ignore federal laws that interfere with their faith.
The article comes following last month’s Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, which upheld the right of some businesses owned by religious individuals not to finance contraception coverage for employees; and a letter by more than 140 religious organizations and individuals petitioning for an exemption from President Barack Obama’s pending executive order which aims to protect LGBT federal employees.
The article discusses in detail an exemption granted to George Fox University, Oregon, that allows it to discriminate against a transgender student who identifies as a man and was refused permission to reside in housing for male students; and The California Baptist University case in which a scholarship student was expelled by the university on the basis of “fraud” after she appeared on a reality television program to discuss her transgender identity.
The article goes on to consider the case of Gordon College in Massachusetts. College president Michael Lindsay signed the letter to Barack Obama seeking exemptions. Citing Gordon’s anti-gay policies, the City of Salem, Massachusetts, has since killed a contract under which Gordon has operated the city's Old Town Hall. Additionally, the college’s accreditor is now reviewing whether Gordon’s policies violate NEASC’s anti-bias rules.