NEWBERG, Ore. — A transgender student who was born biologically as a female and now seeks to identify as a male recently filed a federal complaint against a Christian university in Oregon for denying her the use of the male dorms.
The student, identified only as “Jayce,” lodged the sexual discrimination complaint with the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on Friday, stating that officials at George Fox University “denied [their] request to live with other male students on campus.”
Jayce is sophomore and has been changing her appearance from female to male over the past few years. She first approached officials about her desire to live in the male dormitory in December, but officials denied her request, stating that because she is biologically a female, she must use the female dorms.
The student later obtained legal counsel after officials continued to stand their ground over the matter due to its Christian beliefs.
“The university’s decision makes me feel rejected, misunderstood and punished for something I cannot change,” Jayce told local television station KGW. “It also makes me anxious and nervous about where I’ll be able to live next year, and the year after that.”
But George Fox University issued a statement on the same day that the complaint was filed, reiterating its commitment to the Scriptures and asserting that it had been more than understanding to the student.
“George Fox strives to be a Christ-centered community and our residential facilities are single gender because of our theological commitments,” the statement read. “The student’s request to switch from female-only on-campus housing to male-only on-campus housing is one that many institutions would struggle with.”
It outlined that the school went so far as to refer to Jayce as a male, while drawing the line at allowing her to live with the men in the male dorms.
“Over the past several months, George Fox Student Life staff has spent many hours with this student hearing his story and offering support,” the statement continued. “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.”
“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,” it said. “The university has researched the student’s attorney’s legal claims and believes they are without merit, especially given the religious nature of the university.”
George Fox University was founded in 1885 as a school for Quakers, and is a private institution. Students on campus are largely Christian, and “all … employees—faculty, staff and administrators–are committed Christians.” The university holds to a lifestyle statement that expects staff and students to walk in holiness in their personal lives and be “transformed into the image of Christ.”