The U.S. Department of Education has closed a complaint by a female to male transgender student, granting her Oregon Christian college a religious exemption and thereby the right to deny the student's request to reside in school housing reserved for only males.
The Education Department officially denied Jayce Marcus' complaint and granted the George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, a religious exemption from having to follow portions of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act that conflict with the school's religious views, according to PQ Monthly, a Portland-based LGBT magazine.
Marcus, 20, had filed a complaint to the Education Department in April after being refused the permission to be housed with other male students. Marcus, who had been in the female dorms, completed her sexual transition to become a "man" over the last year.
Also in April, more than 14,000 supporters signed a petition on behalf of Marcus, which was delivered to the campus, according to KPTV.
"George Fox University, without telling us, requested a religious exemption to the Title IX regulations regarding housing, restrooms and athletics as they apply to transgender students," the student's attorney, Paul Southwick, was quoted as saying.
"The university sought this exemption to preserve its right to draw on its religious convictions to handle situations related to students experiencing gender identity issues. Other colleges have received similar Title IX exemptions in the past," George Fox said in a statement. "Providing appropriate housing for transgender students continues to be a challenge at religious and non-religious institutions across the country."
"The DOE granted the request for the religious exemption with surprising speed - only two months, rather than the years it has taken historically to get an exemption," Southwick added. Based on the exemption, the DOE closed Marcus' complaint. The DOE did all of this without telling us anything about the exemption request, despite my repeated calls and emails for information and status updates."
Marcus says he is "shocked and disappointed."
"I'm not giving up. I deserve to be treated like the other men on campus," he said.
George Fox spokesman Rob Felton has said that the school offered Marcus the option to live on campus in a single apartment. "He's been given until next week to decide if he will accept or reject that offer," KGW.com quoted the as saying. Jayce, however, doesn't want to accept the offer.
The school earlier told FOX 12, "George Fox strives to be a Christ-centered community, and our residential facilities are single sex because of our theological commitments. 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."
"Transformation is part of your education at George Fox. Spiritual growth - whether in chapel or in the classroom - is at the core of who we are. Come cultivate your mind and your spirit," the school says on its website.