BYX v. University of Florida Lawsuit Update

As many of you are aware, BYX has been involved in a lawsuit with the University of Florida for over 2 years. Florida had originally refused to recognize BYX as a Registered Student Organization because BYX admits only Christians to its membership. Ironically, the University attempted to take shelter behind its “anti-discriminati
on policy” while discriminating against BYX and claiming that its policy prohibited them from allowing BYX to register. We were initially unsuccessful in persuading the trial court on our position. However, we appealed our case to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta where our arguments finally got significant traction.

At oral argument, the 11th Circuit three-judge panel aggressively attacked Florida’s thin justifications for denying BYX access to student registration. Seeing the writing on the wall, Florida caved only a few weeks later, changed their policy, and recognized BYX as an

official student organization. Florida’s change of heart was likely motivated out of concern that it would suffer a damaging adverse ruling and be forced to pay BYX’s legal fees. After reversing its policy, Florida petitioned the 11th Circuit to dismiss the appeal since there was no longer a dispute and since they had given us every remedy we requested. On the surface, this sounds like total victory–and it is in this case.

However, the 11th Circuit’s dismissal of the case as moot undermined our effort at making Florida an example to other universities. They fought us for over 2 years and, at the last minute, when they knew they would lose, they caved to avoid an adverse ruling and legal fees. While good for our BYX guys at Florida, we would have preferred that the court give Florida the same lashing on paper that it delivered in oral argument to dissuade other wayward universities from similar unconstitutional behavior. Nonetheless, this case serves as a powerful example that the constitutional rights of organizations like BYX will not be marginalized by universities inclined to deny religious organizations access to student registration and university services.

So, a very long chapter in the fight for religious freedom is closed. Praise be to God, we won. Now, let’s pray for continued favor as our fraternity expands across the nation.


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