27-year-old Domaine Javier sued Cal Baptist University of Riverside, California for expelling her for being transgender, and on July 11 the court ruled predominantly in the school's favor.
Cal Baptist expelled Javier back in August of 2011 after finding out Javier is transgender from an MTV "True Life" episode. The Baptist school claimed Javier was being punished because she committed "fraud" by marking "female" on her enrollment forms, when in reality, there is nothing "fraudulent" about simply being transgender. “They asked for my gender and I see myself as female," Javier told CBS Los Angeles.
Javier sued Cal Baptist on the basis of California's Unruh Act, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
The court, however, ruled that the Unruh Act only applies to an organization's business operations "but not its classes on campus in which faculty [of Baptist Cal] are required to integrate Christian values into both religious and secular courses," according to The Press Enterprise.
The ruling follows close in the path of Hobby Lobby, continuing the precedent of permitting discrimination on so-called religious grounds.
The court did rule partially in Javier's favor, however, by ruling that the university's business operations and services that are open to the public are indeed covered by the Unruh Act. Such services include Cal Baptist's counseling center, restaurant, library, and art gallery.
Javier's attorney, Paul Southwick, who is also representing Jayce M., the transgender student who was denied appropriate campus housing at George Fox University, expressed excitement for this portion of the ruling. Southwick stated,
Today is a great day for transgender Californians. Today, the court recognized that transgender people are not frauds and that any business that treats them that way is in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination statute. … That is a really strong statement from the court.
Javier, too, was thrilled by this important partial victory. "It’s such a huge victory for me personally and for other transgender people like me," she said.
Southwick stated that he plans on appealing the rest of the ruling on the legal grounds that Cal Baptist, though a private institution, receives federal funding and should therefore be subjected to the same discrimination policies as federally funded secular schools.