Eighteen students from Southern Utah University’s PRIDE Club and other multicultural clubs met with school officials on April 8 to discuss transgender equality on campus.
The issue made headlines in December, 2007 when housing officials refused to grant Kourt Osborn, a female to male transgender student, because Osborn has not had gender reassignment surgery. In late February, SUU administrators said that they are considering a number of ways to address the situation of housing and safety for transgender students, including the adoption of a gender-neutral housing policy, the designation of unisex bathrooms, a rethinking of how to phrase questions about gender on official SUU forms.
“We, in some ways, are exploring uncharted territories,” Donna Eddleman, Vice President of Student Affairs, told campus newspaper SUU Journal at the time. “Because of that, and because in some ways, the university could be precedent-setting, as we make decisions and change policies, I think we should proceed somewhat slowly and cautiously to make sure that we look at all possibilities and alternatives and, quite frankly, all the needs we have to address.”
Ashlie Meredith, PRIDE Club president, said she felt positive about the meeting.
“Donna has done her research,” she said, noting that Eddleman had successfully fought to get sexual orientation on the nondiscrimination policy at another university. “She knows the issues, is passionate about them, and has already planned some goals to be met by the end of the summer.”
These goals, said Meredith, include designating all single-stall locking bathrooms as “gender-free,” including gender neutral bathrooms in the lobbies of the school’s new residence halls, and changing the housing application to have students list their gender instead of checking male or female. Additionally, Meredith said the possibility of housing all transgender students together (and without “a specific designation to out them”) came up during the meeting.
Meredith said Eddleman will meet with students again in the fall to discuss her progress on getting these measures in place.