Consortium to George Fox University ~ Support & Affirm all gender identities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2014
Contact: Jen Self, Publications & Communication Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
George Fox University, a small Quaker college in Oregon, has recently made the decision to prevent a student from being housed in a way that affirms his gender identity. In July, the university clarified that their sex-segregated housing policy is based on anatomical sex rather than on gender identity. George Fox has also sought, and received, a religious-based exemption to the Title IX guidelines that would otherwise require the college to respect this student’s gender identity. The Consortium is concerned about two main dimensions of this case.
First, physical sex is an insufficient measure upon which to make housing decisions. While some transgender individuals do undergo gender confirmation surgery in order to align their bodies with their gender identities, for many trans* people surgery is prohibitively expensive, medically unwise, or otherwise undesirable. Requiring a young transgender person to undergo surgery before they are prepared to do so could be harmful to that person, and is a practice specifically condemned by the World Health Organization. Moreover, defining housing under a strict interpretation of genital status ignores the existence of intersex people, who often find themselves left out of normative definitions of sex. While there are many factors that go into making a safe and educational housing environment, genital characteristics should be the least of these considerations.
Second, we are concerned that exemptions to Title IX guidelines weaken the power of this law. Title IX protections have helped many LGBTQ high school and college students successfully challenge harassment, discrimination, and inequitable treatment. The Department of Education has been very clear that Title IX protects transgender people. Selectively allowing certain institutions to withdraw from these protections will lead to a negative climate for LGBTQ people. And now the George Fox Title IX exemption appears to have influenced at least two other colleges, who have now been granted permission to expel a student or fire an employee simply for being trans*.
While George Fox may have made a decision in the case of this particular student, we urge all institutions of higher education to consider ways to be supportive of transgender students. For guidance on this, please see our document Suggested Best Practices for Supporting Trans* Students. We believe that all students should be treated with equity and respect. Towards that end, we support and celebrate the work of Safety Net, an organization devoted to supporting LGBTQA people at religiously-affiliated colleges. LGBTQA people of faith deserve to be able to pursue educations that support their spiritual convictions, gender identities, and sexual orientations. We encourage all colleges and universities to join us in working to protect the rights of LGBTQ students, staff, and faculty.
Shared Vision and Mission Statement
To critically transform higher education environments so that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni have equity in every respect.
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
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