A recent settlement between the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights and a California school district should be setting off alarm bells, as Catholic colleges may be forced to accommodate transgender students in new ways or risk losing federal funding, according to Inside Higher Ed.
In a joint announcement, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education stated that California's Arcadia School District violated Title IX because it prevented a female student who identified as male from entering male restrooms and locker rooms and participating in sex-specific activities.
And although this is a decision about a high school, the ramifications will likely spread to all levels of higher education, which are required to comply with Title IX or risk losing federal funding.
"It actually is groundbreaking," Erin Buzevis, the law professor at Western New England School of Law who runs the Title IX Blog, reportedly told Inside Higher Ed. "By taking one such case, OCR signals its willingness to take similar cases in the future, and there's no reason to think those cases wouldn't also include college students."
The consequences of the ruling could reportedly require schools and colleges to allow young men who consider themselves women to use bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex. It could also lead to “gender-inclusive housing,” which would be morally problematic for Catholic colleges.
It would hardly be an anomaly for the federal government to force Catholic colleges to act against their values, as the Obama administration will soon require that Catholic colleges provide health coverage that includes abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures.
And just last year, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights ruled that Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., was “not providing equal opportunity for women to participate in its intercollegiate athletics program” in compliance with Title IX regulations. It actually ordered them to form a girls’ ice hockey team.
Duquesne University, Manhattan College in New York and St. Xavier University in Chicago have all recently struggled with the National Labor Relations Board’s interference in personnel matters, despite federal court rulings prohibiting such NLRB intrusion into religious education.
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