Group presses UH administration to act on resolutions for transgender students
In the past year, the Student Government Association and the Faculty Senate have passed resolutions for the transgender student population on campus, but the administration at UH has yet to act on them.
A resolution to add the phrase “gender identity and expression” to the non-discrimination statement from UH has been passed, but it remains to be finalized with the Board of Regents.
“Overall, it’s been in the chancellor’s office since 2006,” Graduate Social Work Senator for SGA Josephine Tittsworth said. “Then in 2008 and 2009, a new legislation was passed by SGA to include the phrase ‘gender identity and expression,’ and that has been with the current chancellor’s office since then.”
A group on campus, the Cougar LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) Allies, has set up meetings with President Renu Khator to ask her why the resolution has failed to reach its next step.
“We have gotten to the point where we set up meetings with her and instead she hands us over to Vice President Dr. (John) Antel and he dealt with us,” English professor and Cougar Ally Maria Gonzales said.
Gonzales said that the University is willing to build the infrastructure and have UH become an LGBT supportive campus by adding an LGBT studies minor through Women’s Studies and an LGBT Resource Center with a half-time director to help address these issues. But the Cougar LGBT Allies would still like the wording on the non-discrimination statement to be changed.
Currently the statement of non-discrimination for UH concludes that equal treatment and opportunity is provided to all persons without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or sexual orientation, except where such distinction is required by law.
Whereas other universities across Texas have made the change in their statements.
The University of Texas at Austin, for example, has added the following sentence to their non-discrimination statement, “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is also prohibited pursuant to University policy.” Other universities across Texas that have changed their non-discrimination statements are Rice, Houston Community College and South Texas College of Law.
In an SGA meeting last month, a resolution was passed to give transgender students the right to choose their preferred names on their Cougar Card, but the resolution is not official yet either.
“The Affirmative Action Officer Allison Odom-Bashir is working with the committee to see what the possibility is for this resolution to be put in place,” Tittsworth said.
The LGBT has also taken action to speed up the process.
“We have contacted the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) on campus,” Director of the LGBT Resource Center Lorrain Schroeder said. “We are in the process of making some procedures, so the transgender student population can have their alternative name on their ID badge.”