Thursday, May 19, 2016 05:56 PM

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Holding Universities Accountable: 

Protecting Transgender Students Under Title IX


May 2016

In December of 2015, the Consortium sent letters to the United States Department of Education and the Department of Justice requesting federal guidance for supporting transgender students in higher education. This past week, the Obama administration issued a Dear Colleague letter outlining many of the recommendations. Below are highlights from our December letter.

The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals supports over 800 members on over 200 college campuses across the United States. Nearly every day, we hear from members who are working to ensure that transgender students are being treated equitably on their campuses. Our members tell us that they face institutional roadblocks, including: computer systems that disregard transgender students’ names, unsafe restrooms, and few staff members  who are competent in supporting transgender students. Together with our members, we work to create higher education environments where LGBTQ individuals have equity in every respect.
Towards that end, we seek to remove barriers that prevent transgender students from full participation in the college environment. Because of this goal, we appreciate the steps that the Office of Civil Rights has taken thus far to ensure the equitable treatment of transgender students. However, these documents fall short of discussing the full range of discrimination faced by college students on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. We implore the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights to issue clear guidelines and policies that lead to truer inclusion and protection of transgender students at colleges and universities.
Below are a few examples of places where colleges can prevent sex-based  and gender-based discrimination.
  In residential facilities, transgender students should be housed in accordance with their gender identities.
  In bathroom and locker room facilities, transgender students should be granted access in accordance with their gender identities. Schools should also create all-gender or “family” restrooms and locker rooms in order to provide additional options. Nevertheless, no student should be required to use separate facilities because they are transgender.
  In campus record-keeping systems, transgender students should be able to list a name, gender marker, and pronoun that reflect their identities.
  In sororities, fraternities, and other sex-segregated groups, transgender students should be granted access in accordance with their gender identities.
  In student health centers, transgender students should be cared for by professionals with experience and knowledge about the health needs of transgender individuals. Student health insurance policies should cover medically necessary care for transgender individuals, including hormones and surgery.
As colleges and universities admit increasing numbers of transgender students to their campuses, they will be looking to federal guidelines to be sure that they are in compliance. We request your help in providing that information to them.

Read the full December letter here. We thank the Obama administration for issuing clearer guidelines on making our institutions of higher education more inclusive for transgender students, and we also acknowledge that many institutions will still have questions in regards to comprehensive implementation. To learn more concrete steps to campus trans inclusion, please see our joint publication with Lambda Legal, or visit our policy and practice recommendations document for more in-depth guidance.

The combined vision and mission of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals is to achieve higher education environments in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni have equity in every respect. Our goals are to support colleagues and develop curriculum to professionally enhance this work; to seek climate improvement on campuses; and to advocate for policy change, program development, and establishment of LGBT Offices/Centers. Learn more about the Consortium at