Did this Christian University Kick Out a Student for Being Transgender?
Photo Credit: Aaron Lemen/California Baptist University
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RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - California Baptist University expelled a student when it learned she had discussed "the stigma of being transgender" on an MTV show, the student claims in court.
Domainlor Javier Cabading sued California Baptist University, its Dean of Students David Anthony Lammons, and its Vice President for Student Services Lowell Kent Dacus, in Superior Court.
Cabading, whom the complaint refers to as "Ms. Javier," claims the school unlawfully expelled her "only weeks before she was to begin pursuing her degree in nursing" because it found out she is transgender.
Cabading, who is 26 and a native of the Philippines, says she came to the United States in 2007 to earn a college education and a find a job so she could take care of her mom.
"Although Ms. Javier was born male, she has viewed herself as female for as long as she can remember and as presented herself as female since she was a child," the complaint states.
California Baptist University is an accredited university founded in 1950. It is affiliated with the California Southern Baptist Convention and is the "only Southern Baptist college or university on the West Coast," according to its Web site.
The college has more than 6,000 students "from 37 states and 30 foreign countries," and 508 faculty members at four California campuses, according to the complaint.
The school says on its Web site that its mission is to provide a "Christ-centered educational experience that integrates academics with spiritual and social development opportunities. Graduates are challenged to become individuals whose skills, integrity and sense of purpose glorify God and distinguish them in the workplace and in the world."
Cabading says she submitted an online application to CBU around Feb. 28, 2011, while she was a student at Riverside City College.
"On the application, she indicated that her academic goal was to graduate from CBU with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing," the complaint states.
In response to questions about her religious beliefs, she wrote that she is Catholic and goes to a Catholic church in Riverside, Cabading says.
When the application asked her to identify her gender, she says she checked the box marked "female."
To complete the application, Cabading says, she had to click "I agree" in response to a statement of agreement that outlined CBU's policies for student conduct. Among other things, the agreement banned smoking, drinking, and tobacco, requires students to attend weekly church services, and tells them to "respect the personal integrity of every member of the campus community ... by refraining from profanity, harassment, [and] physical or verbal abuse," according to the complaint.
Cabading claims: "Neither the application, nor the statement of agreement, nor any of the documents referenced therein, address gender identity, gender expression, or transgender persons."
Cabading says CBU accepted her as an honors student in a June 10, 2011 acceptance letter, which said she was eligible for financial aid.
Cabading says she applied for an academic scholarship and was awarded $3,500, and received $2,000 more after she auditioned for the CBU's women's choir and impressed them with her "skills as a female singer."
But a little over a month later, Cabading says, she received a letter from defendant Dean Anthony Lammons, stating that CBU was "suspending her registration eligibility" because she had lied about her identify.
"Fearing that her educational plans were in jeopardy, Ms. Javier called Dean Lammons to schedule a meeting to discuss the matters addressed in the July letter. A meeting was scheduled for July 28, 2011," the complaint states.