Opinion: Leaked Lee University policy on gender identity indicates school will stand by its faith

Most parents make rules about what's right and what's wrong for their children from their own experiences, from what has stood the test of time and from what they believe provides the most safety.

They wouldn't want to have in their home someone telling their children the rules are wrong and they should determine for themselves what they want to do.

Private employers evaluate those they would hire through the qualifications needed for a certain job, through a process to determine which applicants have those qualifications and through a discernment process among those qualified as to which would make the best employees.

They wouldn't want to have in their employ individuals who tell other employees not to follow the rules and to conduct themselves in any manner they want to.

Similarly, private colleges have standards known by students upon entry, academic achievements that must be met in order to remain a student and rules of behavior that must be followed.

The colleges don't want to have in their midst individuals telling other students the rules are wrong, shouldn't be followed and that they should be able to live in any manner they choose.

A leaked draft of an updated policy on the gender and sexuality of students at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., was the subject of an article in this newspaper Sunday.

The policy, if approved, would prevent students from identifying as anything other than their gender at birth or from advocating against such a policy.

Not surprisingly, it met with some criticism.

Lee University is a private school, is affiliated with the Church of God and, as such, adheres to many of the denomination's strictures.

The denomination does not support same-sex relations or marriage, just as it does not advocate premarital or extramarital sexual relations.

The school's policy, as it relates to gender identity, states that a person's biological sex is binary and "humans do not have the ability, or observed right, to choose a gender."

It goes on to say no member of the Lee University community should behave in a way that does not correspond to their birth gender such as using a different name, different pronouns or dressing in a way that would be perceived at odds with that gender.

It additionally says no member of the community should advocate in ways contrary to Scripture, university policy or the specific policy about gender identity, nor may they seek any type of treatment that would change their biological sex.

Although Lee University has numerous programs of study that might be attractive to specific students, we can't imagine why a student who leads a life contrary to the biblical standards set by the university would want to attend there. The school is not inexpensive, and many other private universities exist that do not set biblical standards for their students.

Further, there are plenty of public universities where those in charge of the university's worldview adhere to those who prefer non-traditional lifestyles, pronouns and all. Those universities, which take government money, are also likely to cost much less.

Indeed, the great majority of colleges and universities in the country offer a relatively humanistic existence. They may put academic requirements in place and a few rules here and there for safety, but they leave alone how students live their lives.

(Humanism, according to The Humanist Magazine, "derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.")

We don't believe any policy, existing or updated, will keep students who prefer a lifestyle that is inconsistent with Lee's policies from going there if they still want to be there and can pay to do so.

But we do believe the university has the right as a private entity to make its own rules, to adhere to the faith denomination with which it is affiliated and to ask those who attend it to follow those rules.

A parent is not going to insist the school's bully teach their children how to act. An architectural firm is not going to hire someone with a graduate degree in philosophy to design buildings. And neither should students who want to live a certain way seek out a faith-related school in which their lifestyle is not accepted, if it can be helped.

The federal government had to learn a similar lesson over and over again in the past decade when judges ruled it could not force religious entities which did not support abortion to pay for abortifacients.

Whether or not you support Lee University's policy, it should not be forced to acquiesce in what it believes and, in turn, how its students must act upon those beliefs.