Thursday, December 01, 2011

Catholic University Cleared In Challenge To Same-Sex Dorms

In a press release yesterday, Catholic University announced that the D.C. Office of Human Rights has dismissed the complaint filed by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf challenging as discriminatory Catholic University's elimination of mixed-gender dormitories on campus. The 16-page opinion in In re Banzhaf v. Garvey, (DC OHR, Nov. 29, 2011), reviews at length the arguments by both sides. Among the University's claims was that "co-ed dorms contribute to an atmosphere that is incompatible with the university's religious mission," and that its decision is protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Prof. Banzhaf disagreed arguing that the University's moral and ethical concerns are secular ones, not basic religious tenets.  In upholding the University's policy, the OHR held broadly that:
the DCHRA does not forbid colleges and universities from making sex-based distinctions between students. We agree that to follow Complainant's reasoning would include a prohibition on same-sex bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams, which would lead to absurd results.