Institutions of higher learning across the globe are recognizing gender identity and gender expression are important aspects of a person's authentic self and should be protected with non-discrimination policies and procedures.
As our Transgender sisters, brothers and their allies’ graduate, they will not understand or tolerate any sort of discrimination. Ignorance and religious superstitions will no longer be excuses.
All of this is called doing the right thing. Something many do not understand.
Seeking gender identity at UCF
Students propose change to Golden Rule
By Bianca Fortis
Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The non-discrimination policy in the Golden Rule Student Handbook may soon be changed to include protections for gender identity and expression.
Currently, the non-discrmination policy states: “The University of Central Florida values diversity in the campus community. Accordingly, discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, parental status or veteran’s status is prohibited.”
Michael Freeman, a training coordinator in the Office of Diversity Initiatives has spent more than two years working on a proposal to change the policy.
“The way the Golden Rule is presently written, gender identity and expression is not included as a protected class,” Freeman said. “A number of our students feel that that needs to change, so I’m working with them to get that added.”
The proposal will be presented to the Golden Rule Review Committee on Thursday.
Anita Estrada, a senior psychology major and an intern at the Office of Diversity Initiatives, said making the policy more specific will help protect people who identify as transgender.
“We have gender and sexual orientation covered in the non-discrimination policy,” Estrada said. “But there is so much more about a person and how they choose to identify – such as how they wear clothing and wear makeup - that can put them in danger in certain situations.”
Rebecca Marques, a senior political science major, is a member of EQUAL, a registered student organization whose mission is to provide a safe environment for students without fear of discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Marques said gender identity has historically been oppressive.
“There are certain things society deems normal,” Marques said. “If you don’t fit into the ‘normal’ box that they draw out for you, you’re subjected to lesser treatment.”
According to the American Psychological Association, “Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity (sense of themselves as male or female) or gender expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex. Many transgender people live part-time or full-time as members of the other gender. Broadly speaking, anyone whose identity, appearance or behavior falls outside of conventional gender norms can be described as transgender. However, not everyone whose appearance or behavior is gender-atypical will identify as a transgender person.”
Estrada said she decided to help out the cause because UCF is the third largest university in the U.S. and does not have a non-discrimination policy. She said the first and second largest universities, Arizona State University and Ohio State University, do.
According to the Transgender Law and Policy Institute, there are 266 colleges and universities in the U.S. with Non-Discrimination Policies that include gender identity and expression.
“In order for the University of Central Florida to remain competitive in the future, we must align with our peer and aspirational institutions who have these policies,” Freeman said.
Estrada said students should help out the cause and make sure all people who attend UCF and want to attend UCF are protected.
Students also started a petition to gather support for the policy change.
Marques said they started gathering signatures in March.
“The student body has been receptive,” Marques said. “They’ve acknowledged that discrimination is not OK, that this is something that needs to happen.”
Marques said 500 student signatures as well as over 1,000 signatures from the community have been collected.
Marques said even if the proposal falls through, she’s glad that they’ve been able to open up dialogue about gender issues.
“I’ll be happy if one person at UCF feels a little bit better about telling someone they’re trans or queer,” she said.
Estrada said changing the policy will be a huge stepping stone for the university.
“It’s not the last and final thing we need to do,” Estrada said. “But if we get this approved by the golden rule committee, that’s a launching point to make our campus more welcoming to everyone who attends here.”
On Friday students will participate in the 14th annual National Day of Silence, which will be followed by a rally in front of the Student Union.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Posted by De Sube at 4/15/2010 10:43:00 AM