The leaders of seven evangelical institutions of higher learning in South Carolina are asking Gov. Nikki Haley to shield their schools from federal mandates on transgender students’ bathroom use.
In a letter to the Governor’s Office Monday, the heads of Anderson University, Bob Jones University, Charleston Southern University, Erskine College, North Greenville University and Southern Wesleyan University asked Haley to promote religious freedom.
According to the Associated Press, the school presidents said mandates like the Obama Administration’s order requiring public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms consistent with their chosen gender identity could violate the privacy and modesty of students who object based on religious values.
“The Obama Administration has placed mandates on educational institutions that essentially force public school students to use bathrooms with members of the opposite biological sex,” the presidents wrote in the letter. “Even though to do so violates the privacy and modesty of students who may object on the basis of their deeply held religious values.”
The presidents pointed to a California proposal that would deny college students the opportunity to participate in grant programs if their schools violate California’s gender-identity policies.
South Carolina is among the 23 states that are involved in lawsuits against the Department of Education over its new requirements that schools allow students to use the restroom of the gender with which they identify. While the requirement is not technically mandatory for states, school districts risk losing federal money if they do not follow the requirements.
A federal judge in Texas blocked the administration’s order Monday. The judge said that federal education law is not ambiguous as to how sex is defined as the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at birth.