Trans Student Denied Housing

Fight against discrimination at George Fox

Olivia Olivia | 7/30/2014, 11:42 a.m.
Jayce Marcus, a Portland student at George Fox University, is battling school administration for the right to be housed with ...
Jayce Marcus, a transgender student from Portland attending George Fox University in Newberg, is fighting for the the right to be housed with other male students on campus. Olivia Olivia

Jayce Marcus, a Portland student at George Fox University is battling school administration for the right to be housed with other males on the Newberg campus.

His struggle dates back to February, when Mark Pothoff, the college’s dean of community life, wrote to Marcus announcing the school’s refusal to provide him housing with his male classmates.

The school offered him solitary housing on campus, or the option of living off-campus if he so chose, but Marcus turned both of these options down and persisted on shared on-campus housing like everyone else. He cited his need for community and fears of depression and isolation living alone or off-campus.

George Fox, a Christian university of liberal arts and sciences, and professional studies, then secretly filed for a federal Title IX exemption to prevent the school from having to offer transgender students housing on campus.

In his letter to the Department of Education and Office for Civil Rights, George Fox President Robin Baker stated that “the University believes that human beings, fashioned by God in His own image, are created male and female (Genesis 1:27)” in defense of the university’s stance.

The exemption was approved before Marcus and his Portland attorney, Paul Southwick, could file a discrimination complaint against the school.

A Portland native and a Grant High School graduate, Marcus has been working closely with Southwick, who coincidentally is also a George Fox alumnus who has been working for social justice and the improvement of LGBT rights at George Fox through an alumni and student network called OneGeorgeFox.

Marcus and his family have called on their community to sign petitions, write and call George Fox, and spread the word of Jayce’s story.

Written into the school’s new policies are requirements that Marcus and future transgender students, especially transgender students of color, may struggle to meet. Full genital reassignment surgery will be required of all students seeking housing at George Fox set aside exclusively as male or female – a costly medical cost that the school’s insurance conveniently leaves out of its student insurance policy.

The new policy, states:

“Providing appropriate housing for transgender students continues to be a challenge at religious and non-religious institutions across the country. George Fox University has a two-year required, single-sex dorm policy it has developed in light of its religious convictions. It has the discretion to assign all students to appropriate housing. Common residence halls are single-sex, defined anatomically. We are committed to residential access, and it is consistent with our beliefs and our community values that a presurgical transgendered person will be provided on-campus housing in appropriate alternative housing well-connected to the residential community. That person also has the option to live off campus.”

It is important to note that the World Health Organization recently came out against such forced genital surgery requirements in a statement, citing that it forcibly sterilizes people who may want to retain their reproductive capacities despite transitioning from one gender to another. The school however has not responded to such concerns in its recent statements.