Same-Sex Dorms Being Challenged at Catholic University

A complaint has been filed against the president of Catholic University of America for announcing that the school would be transitioning back to single-sex dormitories.

CUA President John Garvey recently announced that the university would return to the practice of maintaining separate dormitories for male and female students.

The complaint, filed by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights, says the new policy violates the district’s Human Rights Act.

Banzhaf is no stranger to such complaints. In the early 2000s, he consulted with his law students and other attorneys who sued McDonalds, claiming that it should be legally liable for making children obese. He is known as the “Father of Potty Parity” law that required pubic facilities to construct more women’s restrooms than men.

“I’ve had a long and distinguished career in fighting discrimination lawsuits for many years,” said Banzhaf. “I filed the complaint against John Garvey after I read his comments in the Wall Street Journal.

“I believe Catholic University has no solid reason for moving to same-sex dormitories. You can’t have a situation where you require men and women to have separate parking lots or use separate computer labs. I don’t see a difference with dormitories.”

Dale Schowengerdt is with Alliance Defense Fund and has written a memo on Professor Banzhaf’s complaint.

“Christian colleges should not feel compelled to maintain co-ed living arrangements simply because a law professor in D.C. demands it,” said Schowengerdt.

“As long as Catholic University or any other institution does not give one party an advantage over the other, then there is no discrimination. Plus, I believe a religious school’s right to maintain separate living quarters for men and women is protected by the Constitution and federal law.”

In June, Garvey wrote an opinion piece that was published in The Wall Street Journal. In his column, Garvey mentioned the two primary reasons for his decision to return to same-sex dorms is alcohol-related incidents and sex.

“Alcohol-related accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults aged 17-24,”said Garvey. “Students who engage in binge drinking are 25 times more likely to do things like miss class, fall behind in school work, engage in unplanned sexual activity and get in trouble with the law.”

Garvey also cited the increased sexual activity seen in co-ed dorms as another reason. “Hooking up is getting to be as common as drinking,” Garvey wrote. “Rates of depression reach 20 percent for young women who have had two or more sexual partners in the last year, almost double the rate for women who have had none. And as we have always admonished our own children, sex on these terms is destructive of love and marriage.”

If implemented, the change will only impact incoming freshmen and would be extended to sophomore students the following year. “It will take a few years to complete the transformation,” Garvey said in his June 13 column.

“I think Professor Garvey was pretty clear in his opinion piece why he and Catholic University are making this move and I think he is on firm footing with his decision,” stated Schowengerdt.

The District of Columbia Human Rights Commission has not yet reviewed the case.

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