The Human Rights Campaign is targeting the president of a conservative Oklahoma university for comments in which he boasts he’s “proud” his institution sought a waiver from the government to discriminate against transgender people.
As The Advocate reported, there’s been a spike in the number of religiously-affiliated colleges and universities across the nation seeking exemptions from federal antidiscrimination laws.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 forbids sex discrimination at any educational institution that receives federal funding, which most do in some form, be it research grants or student financial aid. But it allows any school “controlled by a religious organization” to apply for a waiver from the nondiscrimination requirement if complying with Title IX “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.”
Last month HRC appealed in a letter to the federal Department of Education for “greater transparency” from Christian colleges and universities, describing the increase in requests for exemptions from Title IX “a disturbing trend.”
Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, started the war of words with a commentary responding to HRC’s request:
“Yes, Oklahoma Wesleyan University requested an exemption. We refuse to comply with the misogyny endemic to the transgender agenda. We recognize the ontological and biological dignity of the female. We believe in science and we believe in facts and there is little more empirically obvious than one’s sex. Being a female is an objective reality and we refuse to insult women by ignoring such self-evident truth.”
Piper goes on to cite that women at the university will have their own teams, restrooms, showers, and dorms: “Oklahoma Wesleyan reserves the right to discriminate between those who are male and those who are female. To do otherwise would seem to contradict the very premise of Title IX .”
Piper concluded with a direct question to HRC, dripping with sarcasm, bigotry, and hubris:
"So there’s your report. How much more transparent would you like me to be? At Oklahoma Wesleyan University we believe that sexual identity is a scientific fact not a human fabrication and we refuse to degrade men and women by suggesting otherwise. Yes, we were granted an exemption and we are proud of it.”
HRC President Chad Griffin responded in a statement today:
“Mr. Piper’s assertions are despicable, but, sadly, not surprising, given his track record of working with anti-LGBT organizations like the World Congress of Families. Piper should be ashamed. Imagine what it feels like to be a young LGBT student at Oklahoma Wesleyan University and hearing the president of your school publicly disparage you in this way. His astonishingly callous response to revelations that he sought the right to discriminate against his own students is not only stomach-turning, but anathema to the role of an educational leader.”
Although Piper has not responded to HRC, Oklahoma City TV station KWTV reported he did accept an invitation to attend President Obama’s final State of the Union address on January 12, as the guest of Sen. James Lankford, a first-term Republican from Edmond, Okla.
Piper is no stranger to stirring controversy. The university he heads is currently challenging the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. The federal health care law requires nonprofits to provide insurance coverage for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs.
Last month, Piper publicly criticized the generation of students now attending university as self-absorbed and suffering from a sense of victimization and narcissism.