In the post An Argument Why Gender Identity Should Be Added To Non Discrimination And Non Harassment Policies, President Bense was called on the carpet for not recognizing the difference between the terms gender identity and gender as applicable in the University's non harassment and non discrimination policies.
As of Friday, February 5, gender identity is now included in those policies.
President Bense listened to her student body and made her decision for all of the right reasons and because it is the right thing to do.
UWF policy includes transgender students
REBEKAH ALLEN • RALLEN@PNJ.COM • FEBRUARY 6, 2010
The University of West Florida has made it loud and clear: equality for transgender students and staff.
President Judy Bense attended a Student Government Association meeting Friday afternoon to deliver the announcement to students, after denying the request last week.
Effective immediately, she said, the university's harassment and nondiscrimination policy will be updated to include "gender identity."
"If there is one student who is transgender on this campus, then this is all worth it," said Stephen Loveless, 24, Gay-Straight Alliance president. "If it affects one of us, it affects all of us."
The student organization, which has about 65 members, gathered 1,000 signatures on a petition to support the language change, and with the support of SGA, requested that UWF add the more inclusive wording.
Bense said she denied the request because the policy protects "gender," which would include transgender students.
The policy last was updated four years ago, when the word "gender" replaced "sex," and "sexual orientation" was added.
Bense said after talking with concerned students, she realized the wording was too vague, so the policy will now include a clarification.
"We'll put it in writing — that gender includes sex and gender identity," Bense said. "It always did in our minds, it always will and I'll shout it out."
It's unclear if there are transgender students at UWF because the university does not track them.
After the request was denied last week, students reached out to equality organizations asking them to write letters urging Bense to change her mind.
Loveless said more than 50 letters were written to Bense.
"I think this is a victory for the entire student body, not just (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students, because we stood up and said we wanted something done and the administration listened to us," said Liz Southworth, 19, criminal justice sophomore.
There are 282 colleges and universities that include language protecting transgender people, and UWF is the second in Florida to make the distinction.
"It's something that's happening all over the country. It's a movement," Bense said. "I can relate to a movement. I burned my bra, I wore pants when I wasn't supposed to. I get it. This is the way we do things in our country when we want change. We speak out."