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University of California to Adopt New Guidelines for Trans Students

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In more good news out of California for LGBT people, the University of California school system will adopt new considerations for its students.

Out of concern for transgender students and employees' comfort, UC will add preferred names to student records and change exisisting single-stall restrooms to be gender-neutral.

Via San Jose Mercury News, said UC president Janet Napolitano (pictured) of this decision:

UC should be the gold standard where these issues are concerned...We want to look at not only what we are doing now, but also in the medium and long term for our students, our staff, our faculty and the communities where our campuses are situated.

The changes come from a new LGBT advisory council Napolitano established in June. The council's next move is to develop proposals for improving employee training on LGBT issues, and to develop a conference to "showcase faculty research into issues of sexual orientation and gender identity."


Obama Mentions LGBT Victims of Sexual Violence at 'It's On Us' Campaign Rollout: WATCH

Rollout

On Friday President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced the White House’sIt’s On Us” campaign designed to heighten the public’s awareness of sexual assault. Working in collaboration with Generation Progress, a progressive political non-profit focused on college campuses, It’s On Us is the latest addition to the White House Task Force on Sexual Assault’s broader initiative to standardize the processes through which rape and sexual assault are reported and addressed in college settings.

In April the Task Force published a 20-page reportd detailing steps that university leadership should take to more effectively engage with their students, faculty, and security personnel in the on-going conversation about rape-culture.

“An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years -- one in five.” Obama said during Friday’s press conference. “Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported, and of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished.”

Obama made a point of highlighting the prevalence of sexual assault across multiple demographics, adding that while discussion of rape-culture tends to focus on women, men and members of the LGBT community also deserve the same kinds of protections.

“[W]hile these assaults overwhelmingly happen to women, we know that men are assaulted, too. Men get raped. They’re even less likely to talk about it. We know that sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter their race, their economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity -– and LGBT victims can feel even more isolated, feel even more alone.”

It’s On Us’s emphasis on bystander prevention and encouraging men to talk about their own experiences marks the White House’s future plans to further expand the Task Force’s focus to K-12 schools, representatives asserted.

“Obviously, many of these habits do not begin as young people arrive on college campus – it begins earlier than that,” explained a senior White House representative. “Today’s announcement is a critical part of the administration’s work to prevent sexual assault, but it is not the final step.”

Watch It's On Us's firist video PSA featuring actors Jon Hamm, Kerry Washington, Rose Byrne and others AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Obama Mentions LGBT Victims of Sexual Violence at 'It's On Us' Campaign Rollout: WATCH" »


As College Enrollment Dwindles, Schools Aim To Attract Growing LGBT Student Population

CampusPride

University enrollment is slowly dwindling--perhaps because of exorbitant costs and student loans--but a 2013 study from the Pew Research Center shows that twenty, smack dab in the middle of college, is the average age at which LGBT persons are coming out in America. Many schools are perking up their ears, then, and realizing that as attitudes change about sexual orientation in the United States, LGBT students who feel comfortable expressing themselves will need more support and resources available to them than ever before.

Time reports:

“It’s a competitive advantage,” says Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, one of the nation’s first on-campus support centers for LGBT students. “If you want to attract the best and brightest students, you don’t want competitors to get a leg up.”

A growing number of campuses are launching programs to attract and hold onto LGBT students, including college fairs aimed at LGBT applicants, LGBT student-support offices, special graduation ceremonies, and housing and healthcare for transgender students. Colleges and universities are also putting more resources into LGBT student centers, including by hiring full-time employees to direct them.


With Campus Pride and The Princeton Review tracking the level of LGBT-accessibility and friendliness at campuses around the country, it is easier than ever for students to pick and choose the schools they apply to based on criteria specific to sexual orientation. Over 400 schools have taken Campus Pride's index survey, says executive director Shane Windmeyer.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6d8d5ca970b-200wi“Campuses today want to be called gay friendly,” Windmeyer says. “They see they’re going to lose students if they’re not, [and] realize the pool of non-LGBT students is dwindling.”

Josh Bergeleen (right), a gay recent graduate of Emory University who found more support from his school's LGBT resources than from his family in Texas, agrees that schools will realize the tide is changing soon enough.

“As there is more awareness of LGBT [people] in the larger community,” he says, “more and more kids are going to want to know what resources and information are available. Schools will catch up.” 

(Photo of Bergeleen via Time.)


Mills College Becomes First All-Women's School to Welcome Transgender Students

Mills hall

Yesterday, Mills College in Oakland, California, became the first all-women’s college in the U.S. to openly welcome transgender and gender nonconforming students, reports Think Progress.

Last December, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill providing unprecedented protections for transgender students in the state.

Mills College is one of 119 single-sex universities across the U.S., 48 of which are women’s colleges.

According to Brian O’Rourke, vice president of enrollment and admissions, about three to five of the college’s 1,000 undergraduates identify as transgender or gender non-conforming every year.

The new policy allows for numerous ways to accommodate transgender students while still maintaining an identity as a women’s college:

  • The college welcome any student who self-identifies as a woman, regardless of what sex she was assigned at birth.

  • Applicants “who do not fit into the gender binary” are welcome provided they were assigned “female” at birth.

  • Female students who enroll but later identify as a man may stay and graduate.

  • The policy does not apply to undergraduate students who were assigned “female” at birth but who already legally identify as a man.

Last month we reported that George Fox University in Oregon and The California Baptist University continue to legally discriminate against transgender students.  Under exemptions, George Fox University can legally discriminate against a transgender student who identifies as a man and was refused permission to reside in housing for male students.  In The California Baptist University case, a scholarship student was expelled by the university on the basis of “fraud” after she appeared on a reality television program to discuss her transgender identity.


Oklahoma Lesbian Student Expelled For Marrying Her Girlfriend

Minard

Southwestern Christian University student Christian Minard has been expelled from the Oklahoma college for marrying her girlfriend, reports Religion News Service.

The university is affiliated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Bethany, Oklahoma, which has consistently opposed homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

ASouthwestern christian university oklahomas part of her admission requirements, 22-year-old Minard, who is one semester from completing her sports management degree, signed a lifestyle covenant that prohibits “homosexual behavior,” harassment, sexual misconduct, pornography, alcohol, tobacco and other “sins.”

Minard and Kadyn Parks were married on March 17. On July 9, a letter from the university’s vice president Brad Davis, arrived at Minard’s parents’ home, telling her she was being expelled.

The letter read in part:

“I was informed that you recently married someone of the same sex and saw a few pictures from Facebook. Of course, this is opposing to our view as an International Pentecostal Holiness denominational university as well as the Lifestyle Covenant that all students must agree and sign.”

Speaking to The Washington Post, Minard said “other students violate parts of the covenant all the time, but they don’t get expelled.”

Although university provost Connie Sjoberg declined to comment, she cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, which prohibits colleges from disclosing information about students, even to parents.

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Eastern Mennonite University Defers Decision On Hiring of Gay Faculty

Emu

Eastern Mennonite University' in Harrisonburg, Virginia announced Saturday that it would defer its decision on hiring gay faculty while the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) community continued its “discernment of human sexuality,” InsideHigherEd.com reports:

Emu2A formal reversal would have reportedly been a first for any member institution for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, although other Mennonite colleges are having similar conversations about allowing the hiring of openly gay faculty members...

Discussions on Mennonite campuses reflect ongoing debate within the Mennonite Church itself. Because the denomination has a strong focus on social justice issues, many members view its non-recognition of same-sex marriage as incompatible with its identity as a whole. Others still believe strongly and exclusively in the biblical definition of marriage: a union between a man and woman.

Currently, faculty at EMU can be gay but have to be celibate and accept certain tenants upheld by EMU to obtain and keep employment:

During the interview process, candidates have to disclose any objections they have to the Mennonite Church’s Confessions of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, which defines marriage as a covenant for life between a man and a woman. Upon hire, faculty members also have to sign the university’s Community Lifestyle Commitment condemning premarital sex (same-sex marriages are not recognized by the state of Virginia).

Back in the fall, the university’s ban was temporarily lifted as EMU created a ‘listening period’ to engage with its students, faculty and ‘vested’ members—parents, alumni and donors—to help guide its decision. EMU President Loren Swartzendruber said it was a rift in opinions between the students/faculty, who supported lifting the ban, and the vested members, who opposed it, that led to the deferment of any action on the subject. 


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