A transgender student at a smallish Christian liberal arts college in small-town Oregon has filed a federal Title IX discrimination claim that would force the school give the student a dorm room in an all-male residence hall, thus violating its theological principles.
The student attends private, Quaker-affiliated George Fox University in Newberg, about 25 miles southwest of Portland, Seattle ABC affiliate KOMO-TV reports.
The online version of the claim identifies the sophomore only as Jayce (short for Jaycen). It states that Jayce is undergoing “an extensive process” of transition from “female to male.” Jayce “started gender therapy over a year ago” and “has been taking” testosterone “for over a year.”
The George Fox campus only has single-sex dorms. Officials at the Christian school previously turned down Jayce’s request to live in an all-male dormitory. Last week, they chose not to hear an appeal.
The complaint, filed by attorney and transgender activist Paul Southwick, leaves Jayce’s current genitalia situation very ambiguous but takes pains to indicate that “Jayce presents as a male and only goes by male pronouns such as he, his, him etc.”
“They were unwilling to listen to him,” Southwick said, according to KOMO-TV. “And so he had to take the next step to protect himself.”
Incidentally, Southwick is a George Fox University graduate.
Administrators have since issued a statement.
“Both religious and non-religious universities are struggling with appropriate ways to support their transgender students,” the statement reads. “Over the past several months, George Fox Student Life staff has spent many hours with this student hearing his story and offering support. Out of respect for the student’s wishes, university staff refers to the student using the masculine pronoun. At this time, the student has not legally changed genders.”
The statement also explains that “George Fox strives to be a Christ-centered community” where “residential facilities are single gender because of our theological commitments.”
“While the university did not grant his request to live on campus with males, the student was not denied on-campus housing. He was offered the option of an on-campus single apartment with a commitment from Student Life to ensuring he stayed socially connected to the community.”
Some students on campus have defended the school’s position.
“If we decide to go to George Fox knowing full well like the stance,” first-year student Mckenna Miner told KOMO, “then we should follow those rules, like even if it causes us some like personal pain.”
Meanwhile, an online petition at Change.org by Janice “Jayce’s Mom” seeks to persuade school officials to allow the non-male student to live in an all-male dorm.
“Jayce wants to live with his male friends in on-campus housing next year, but George Fox University recently refused to allow this because Jayce is transgender,” the petition urges.
The petition also expresses concern about any policy “which will require that all housing be based on ‘biological birth sex.'”
Well over 3,000 people have signed the petition.
Southwick’s Title IX claim seeks to compel George Fox officials to provide Jayce with a room in an all-male dorm after obtaining a “legal gender change.” Southwick argues that such a change includes “filling out the forms,” “obtaining a letter” from a doctor, “signing in front of a notary” and posting a “legal gender change request in public at the Multnomah County Courthouse.”
Title IX regulations require equal treatment of people regardless of their sex at educational institutions receiving federal money.