The GLBTQ Leadership Council of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College has created a gender identity and gender expression report to present to BC’s administration, in the hopes of modifying the University’s non-discrimination policy to include gender identity.
The U.S. Department of Education requires that every federally funded university adopt a non-discrimination notice under Title IX, the federal law that ensures gender equality on campuses. Title IX also protects against sexual assaults on campuses.
BC’s notice explains how the University is committed to creating a safe living and learning environment for all students. It makes special note of students who are vulnerable to discrimination based on their race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, age, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, military status, or other legally protected status.
GLC, however, would like to see gender identity and expression included in BC’s policy. Collin Pratt, director of policy for GLC and MCAS ’17, is leading the group’s initiative to modify the document.
“If we could start changing the mentality that we don’t always have to stay in line with our peers, we can be ahead of the game, and we can make changes and lead the communities that we are apart of as universities, I think that could be really important.”
-Collin Pratt, director of policy for GLC and MCAS ’17
Currently, the University has gender identity and gender expression in mind when dealing with Title IX, Pratt said. He believes that BC treats sexual assault and discrimination equally, regardless of students’ identities.
“The actual institutional change would not be that difficult to do,” Pratt said. “It would basically be changing the wording of a document.”
Under Title IX, BC is not legally required to include gender identity or gender expression in the policy. The federal law only mandates that non-discrimination policies include the term “sex.”
“In our modern society and especially in the queer community, sex and gender have vastly different meanings,” Pratt said. “To use them in the same sense is archaic, and it’s also very limiting.”
In BC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, it states that sexual misconduct can be committed by persons of any gender and can occur between people of the same or different gender.
“Our response is the same regardless of how students identify,” Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Katherine O’Dair said.
After researching Title IX’s restrictions, Massachusetts law, and 28 other universities’ policies, Pratt and GLC drafted a report outlining the reasons that the group believes the policy needs to be changed. They plan to present it to the administration in the near future. Pratt hopes to have the document’s wording changed by the end of the academic year.
“The University’s policy of non-discrimination, which complies with state and federal discrimination laws, reflects our commitment to inclusiveness and our Jesuit, Catholic mission and identity,” University spokesman Jack Dunn said. “All individuals are welcome at Boston College and the University does not discriminate against anyone based on their uniqueness or identity.”
At the end of the fall semester, Pratt and Nick Minieri, chair of GLC and CSOM ’16, met with administration and graduate students in an LGBTQ roundtable discussion to talk about issues of inclusivity on campus. Pratt hopes to have another meeting in the coming weeks to further the discussion of equality at BC.
GLC has also created three concrete initiatives, in addition to the policy change, for the spring semester. The group hopes to work with housing to start discussion about gender-neutral dorms, change the single-stall bathrooms in Gasson and Campion to gender-neutral, and add gender options, other than male and female, to BC enrollment documents.
“If we could start changing the mentality that we don’t always have to stay in line with our peers, we can be ahead of the game, and we can make changes and lead the communities that we are apart of as universities, I think that could be really important,” Pratt said.
Featured Image by Jordan Pentaleri / Heights Archive