Both Sides Find Reason to Cheer in Ruling on Transgender Student’s Suit

Both parties in a transgender student’s lawsuit against California Baptist University claimed a partial victory last week, after a judge ruled that the institution could exclude the student from on-campus classes but not from other campus services that are open to the public.

Domaine Javier, who identifies as female, was expelled from the university after revealing on a reality television show that she is biologically male. The university said she had been expelled for fraud. She now studies at Riverside City College.

Ms. Javier sued the university, citing a California law that bars discrimination on the basis of factors such as race, gender identity, and gender expression.

A judge found that the law in question applied to an organization’s business operations—such as the university’s counseling center and its library—but not its on-campus classes, according to The Press Enterprise. The judge ordered the university to pay the student $4,000 in damages and awarded her legal fees.

“CBU is pleased that the court recognized that California Baptist University is a private Christian university and is not a business establishment under the Unruh Act,” said James McDonald, an attorney for Fisher & Phillips who is representing the university. “The court also ruled that the plaintiff did not have a valid breach-of-contract claim.”

Paul Southwick, an attorney for Javier, said in an interview that the part of the ruling that favored his client provided protection for other transgender people.

“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,” Southwick said.

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