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The School of the Ozarks dba College of the Ozarks v. Biden

Description:  A directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development forces religious schools to violate their beliefs by opening their dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to members of the opposite sex. The directive accomplishes this by requiring entities covered by the Fair Housing Act to not “discriminate” based on sexual orientation or gender identity.


College of the Ozarks
Thursday, Apr 15, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing College of the Ozarks filed suit in federal court Thursday against the Biden administration. The lawsuit challenges a directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that forces religious schools to violate their beliefs by opening their dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to members of the opposite sex. The directive accomplishes this by requiring entities covered by the Fair Housing Act to not “discriminate” based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The administration’s rule change forces religious schools to violate their beliefs by opening up female dorms to biological males and vice-versa, or face fines of up to six figures, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. The reinterpretation of “sex” in the Fair Housing Act comes in light of President Joe Biden’s executive order titled, “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” signed in January 2021.

“The government cannot and should not force schools to open girls’ dorms to males based on its politically motivated and inappropriate redefinition of ‘sex,’” said ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake. “Women shouldn’t be forced to share private spaces—including showers and dorm rooms—with males, and religious schools shouldn’t be punished simply because of their beliefs about marriage and biological sex. Government overreach by the Biden administration continues to victimize women, girls, and people of faith by gutting their legal protections, and it must be stopped.”

College of the Ozarks holds to the Christian belief that biological sex is not changeable, and it operates its dorms accordingly. The college’s sincerely held religious beliefs influence their policies, including dormitory policies, which prohibit male students from living in female residence halls, and vice versa.

“Religious freedom is under attack in America, and we won’t stand on the sidelines and watch,” said College of the Ozarks President Dr. Jerry C. Davis. “To threaten religious freedom is to threaten America itself. College of the Ozarks will not allow politicians to erode this essential American right or the ideals that shaped America’s founding.”

The lawsuit opposes the HUD directive and the executive order requiring it. The order, issued to all federal agencies, requires them to modify their policies on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The lawsuit explains that the HUD directive contradicts the historical judicial interpretation of the Fair Housing Act, which confirms that “sex” means biological sex. The suit also argues that the directive exceeds the administration’s authority and violates the constitutionally protected freedom of College of the Ozarks and similar religious institutions to operate consistently with their religious beliefs.

College of the Ozarks is a private, Christian, liberal arts college in Point Lookout, Missouri. To achieve its vision, the college pursues academic, vocational, Christian, patriotic, and cultural goals that are mirrored in School of the Ozarks, a laboratory school that completes the K-college model.

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit The School of the Ozarks, Inc. d/b/a College of the Ozarks v. Biden in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Southern Division.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Julie Marie Blake

Julie Marie Blake serves as senior counsel for regulatory litigation at Alliance Defending Freedom. Over the last decade, she has been on the front lines of high-profile, precedent-setting cases challenging federal overreach in courts across the country. Blake served as deputy solicitor general for the state of Missouri from 2017 to 2020 and as assistant solicitor general for the state of West Virginia from 2013 to 2017. In these roles, she argued 26 federal and state appeals, including before the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Before entering government service in 2013, Blake was a litigation associate at Baker Botts L.L.P., where she served as volunteer amicus counsel in several ADF cases, including Town of Greece v. Galloway. Following law school, she served as a law clerk for Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. She received her J.D. magna cum laude from Notre Dame Law School in 2009. She received her B.A. in Politics and Theology & Religious Studies phi beta kappa from the Catholic University of America in 2006. She is a 2007 Blackstone Fellow. Blake is admitted to practice in multiple states, the Supreme Court, and in many federal district and appellate courts.