A trial court in California has largely ruled in favor of California Baptist University after a transgender student, Domaine Javier, sued because the school expelled him for fraud after discovering that he had applied as a female.
Javier, 27, was a nursing student at the private Southern Baptist school in the Inland Empire city of Riverside. He filed a lawsuit seeking $500,000 in damages after being expelled for checking the box indicating female on the school’s admission application, despite the fact that he was biologically male at the time. (RELATED: Transgender Student Sues After Getting Expelled For Failing To Disclose Being Biologically Male)
California Baptist won on four of five counts, The Christian Post reports.
The school lost on one count, for its insistence on excluding Javier from the library, restaurants and other places on campuses that are open to the general public. The judge in the case, Gloria Connor Trask, awarded the former student $4,000 in damages for that slight.
Attorneys for Javier had argued that the California Baptist violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act, a California state law which bans several types of discrimination including discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Judge Trask observed that the law only covers “business establishments” and that the school is a private nonprofit religious corporation, not a business establishment.
Trask also spent considerable effort noting that California Baptist takes its religious doctrine very seriously. (Sex outside of marriage, pornography, alcohol and tobacco, gambling, fireworks and slingshots are a few things that are verboten there.)
“Every secular subject is expressly intertwined with a values-based Christian religious component, taught by a Christian,” Trask explained, according to the Post. “Whatever economic benefit the student hopes to gain from the CBU educational experience, CBU clearly intends to send forth an engineer, nurse, businessperson, or teacher who will be able to apply its religious values in the secular world.”
Since the school’s libraries, restaurants and theater are — or do strongly resemble — business establishments, though, school officials couldn’t ban Javier from entering them under the Unruh Act.
Despite losing on four of five counts, Javier was happy.
“I’m thrilled by today’s ruling,” he said in a statement provided by his attorney, Paul Southwick,
Southwick, who was awarded attorney fees by the judge, was even happier.
“Today is a great day for transgender Californians. Today, the court recognized that transgender people are not frauds and that any business that treats them that way is in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination statute,” Southwick told The Press-Enterprise, a local newspaper.
“That is a really strong statement from the court,” the optimistic attorney added.
School officials were also satisfied.
“CBU is pleased that the court recognized that California Baptist University is a private Christian university and is not a business establishment under the Unruh Act,” James McDonald, a lawyer for the school, told The Press-Enterprise. “The court also ruled that the plaintiff did not have a valid breach-of-contract claim.”
Javier’s expulsion came in August 2011 after he shrewdly decided to appear on an episode of the MTV documentary series “True Life.” The subject of the episode was the challenges transgender people face.
Domaine has insisted that he did nothing wrong.
“They asked for my gender and I see myself as female,” Javier told CBS Los Angeles. “I put female in there. If they asked for sex, I probably would have put male. So I didn’t commit any fraud or anything. It’s just the way I understood the application form.”
Javier will now be able to enroll in online coursework at California Baptist.