Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Colllege of Charleston to install gender neutral bathrooms for trans students




The College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., is in the process of creating a more LGBT friendly campus.
John Bello-Ogunu, chief diversity officer of the university, told The Post and Courier that the college recently completed a draft of a strategic plan that would help increase campus diversity.
Shane Windmeyer, executive director, of Campus Pride spoke at the university’s Office of Institutional Diversity’s Signature Speaker Series as an expert on sexual orientation. Windmeyer told The Courier, “Every campus wants to be called gay-friendly. But most haven’t looked at institutionalizing safety and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.”
Melissa Moore, executive director of We Are Family, provided her support in helping the campus become safer for LGBT students. She says the harassment of transgender students happens mostly in bathrooms. According to The Courier, Moore recommended “gender-neutral” bathrooms be built in addition to other measures being employed by the university. These bathrooms would be placed around campus and the location would be disclosed to transgender students. For more info on the College of Charleston progress go to http://facultysenate.cofc.edu/glbt-resource-page/index.php.

Windmeyer spoke about “The Impact of Hate” at the College of Charleston on Monday as part of the Office of Institutional Diversity’s Signature Speaker Series. The college recently completed a draft of a strategic plan to increase campus diversity, said John Bello-Ogunu, chief diversity officer. The final plan will include ways to make the College of Charleston a more respectful, inclusive and safer place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, he said.

Windmeyer said that according to a recent survey, 25 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual students reported they had encountered harassment on their college campuses. And 40 percent of transgender students reported such harassment. “Every campus wants to be called gay-friendly,” Windmeyer said. “But most haven’t looked at institutionalizing safety and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.” It takes more than allowing a Gay Straight Alliance group to meet on campus or holding a “drag” show, he said.
Melissa Moore, executive director of the local nonprofit organization We Are Family, said her group is working with the college as it develops its strategic diversity plan. She said gay and transgender students primarily tell her about two forms of harassment they encounter on campus. They often are harassed verbally on the street, she said.
“That makes them feel physically threatened.”
And transgender students report being harassed in campus bathrooms, she said. She thinks the college should provide some “gender-neutral” bathrooms for transgender students, and should find ways to let those students know where they are located.

In his presentation, Windmeyer said it’s important to highlight the contributions of gay people. For instance, he said, Bayard Rustin — an advisor of Martin Luther King and an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington— was gay.
It’s important to acknowledge that he was not only an influential black man, but a gay man as well, Windmeyer said.
“There are kids out there killing themselves because they don’t have role models.”
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