Title IX committee to discuss trans-inclusive policies

Published by adviser, Author: Chris Gordon - Assistant News Editor, Date: April 21, 2016
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Policies accommodating transgender students may come to Slippery Rock University if legal precedent rooted in Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is accepted.

Cindy LaCom, SRU’s director of gender studies, said she decided to start the discussion about these policies after attending a presentation on how Title IX has been used to accommodate trans students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).

“I’m on the Title IX committee and I’ve asked our Title IX coordinator to put this on the agenda for next Wednesday,” she said. “I’ve spoken informally to to a couple members of GISO, the president’s commission on gender inclusion and sexual orientation, about possibly working with Title IX in the fall to have policies go into place.”

Macy v. Holder (2012) is often referenced when trans-inclusive policies are enacted, LaCom said.

In this case, the court ruled that discrimination of transgender individuals is discrimination based on sex, according to jacksonlewis.com.

Macy v. Holder relates to SRU because Title IX states “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

“This is all very informal,” LaCom said. “But I’m hoping this fall the conversation becomes much more formal.”

The conversation of trans-inclusion is often reduced to bathroom use, LaCom said, which is an issue she encountered secondhand when Atticus Ranck, a transgender alum, visited campus last week to discuss trans issues.

“When Atticus was on campus, I asked him if he needed to go to the bathroom before we went to a dinner I had planned for him,” she said. “He said ‘no I’ll just wait until we get to the restaurant.'”

LaCom said she later asked Atticus why he hadn’t used the bathroom earlier, to which he responded, “I don’t feel entirely comfortable using the men’s restroom on campus, especially when my picture has been posted everywhere. I just don’t want to risk anyone harassing me.”

“Bathroom use is such a hyper-vigilant issue,” LaCom said, referencing a Kansas bill that would allow university students to seek monetary reward for reporting transgender bathroom use. “If you’re in the women’s restroom, how am I to know, unless I’m peeking through the cracks, whether or not you have a vagina.”

Effective policies accommodate not only bathroom use, but housing, athletics and Greek life too, she said.

LaCom said she’s optimistic trans policies will be accepted at SRU despite its geopolitical climate.

“I think SRU is a lot more progressive than many people give it credit for,” she said. “If you look at IUP, which is in the middle of nowhere, they have what I believe are extremely effective policies for trans students.”

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