The law includes a broad exemption

More “Not us, not us! We get special rules because we’re special! We get to exclude people because god!” bullshit.

PQ Monthly reports that George Fox University has successfully obtained a religious exemption from the Department of Education (DOE) to deny a transgender student named Jayce a place in the campus’ single-sex residence halls. When Jayce first filed his complaint in April, the university said that it had offered him a single apartment as an accommodation, but that it stood by its refusal to allow him to live with other men on religious grounds.

What religious grounds? What religious grounds are there? But the government can’t ask that, because of the Establishment Clause, but it makes no difference anyway, because of RFRA and Hobby Lobby. Heads they win tails we lose.

By conceding to the university’s intention to discriminate, it seems that the DOE was simply following the letter of the law. Title IX has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex since it passed in 1972, and in 2010, the DOE issued guidance clarifying that Title IX also protects LGBT students from sex discrimination, which would include cases like Jayce’s. But the original 1972 law includes a broad exemption for religious universities: “This section shall not apply to an educational institution which is controlled by a religious organization if the application of this subsection would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”

But how does anyone know the application of the subsection would not be consistent with the religious tenets of George Fox University? I don’t think anyone does know, I think everyone is just taking George Fox University’s word for it.

In other words, religious universities are free to ignore any sex nondiscrimination protection they disagree with, and George Fox has just used that exemption to discriminate against a transgender student.

On its website, the university identifies one of its key values as representing “the ethnic, socio-economic, cultural, and gender diversity of the broader Kingdom of God.”

Ha! GFU has a great sense of humor.


  1. Robert B. says

    George Fox founded the Quakers. The Quakers I know are all saying that welcoming a trans person (or any sort of person) certainly is consistent with the tenets of their religion, and keeping people out because they’re different is definitely not consistent. Of course, there’s sampling bias there, since I wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t queer-friendly, but the Quakers have been so historically good on social issues that I’m willing to take the ones I know as representative of at least a significant faction. I think George Fox University just made itself the focus of some sharp intra-denominational controversy.

  2. says

    Oh, Quaker! I knew the name was familiar but didn’t look it up.

    That’s really bizarre. I wouldn’t think that was a Quaker position at all.

  3. says

    It’s a funny thing about the Quakers. The Quakers I’m most familiar with are of the British Yearly Meeting, and they’re historically one of the most welcoming and inclusive religious sects. It was they who, along with some radical Anglicans and Jews, successfully petitioned for a change in UK law that made gay marriage legal in England, Wales and Scotland.

    But Quaker sects, and even local Meetings, have a strong history of divergence which is in the very nature of Quakerism. There are even nontheist (ie: atheist or agnostic) Quakers. Possibly even now Dianetics Quakers, who knows.

  4. Erp says

    In Britain most Quakers are fairly liberal politically and they don’t have many denominational divisions (almost all belong to the Britain Yearly Meeting). In the US they are more divided. The liberal ones (politically) are generally in meetings that are part of the Friends General Conference (mostly in the eastern part of the country) or are part of the independent Pacific Yearly Meeting, North Pacific Yearly Meeting, or Intermountain Yearly Meeting. Sum total probably about 40,000.

    More conservative ones (politically) are generally affiliated with the Friends United Meeting (about 42,000 members in the US) or Evangelical Friends International. Internationally and also in the US, most friends are affiliated with one of these two groups (the country with the largest number of Quakers, Kenya with about 130,000, is almost all Friends United apparently). Note this doesn’t mean they necessarily fit well with other conservative Christians.

    George Fox University is affiliated with the Northwest Yearly Meeting which in turn affiliates with the Evangelical Friends International.

  5. Trebuchet says

    Richard M. Nixon was a Quaker. Or at least raised as one. This was actually a political issue at one time, opponents saying he shouldn’t hold high office because of Quaker pacifism. Probably when he was running for VP in 1952.

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