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Monday, December 4, 2023

Student Government

GENDA bill in review by UCC

After a tug-of-war over the inclusion of gender identity in UH’s non-discrimination policy for students, faculty and staff, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act is being reviewed by the University Coordinating Center.

The UCC will determine whether further action will be needed by the University’s Board of Regents, but Reyes Ramirez, speaker for the student senate, says the policy is sure to pass even without the regents’ approval.

“Several insiders (say) this might no longer be considered major policy (but rather) just a minor revision that president Khator could enact without having to go seek approval from the regents,” said Michael McHugh, author of the proposal. “It’s not major enough where this has to be the highest agenda item for the board of regents to trample with; they are more concerned recently with renovating the stadium and U-Center.”

The original GENDA bill, proposed last semester by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Advocates and approved by the Student Government Association, only applies to students, said James Lee, former president of the LGBT Advocates. This is because the non-discrimination policy is currently found in the student handbook, where faculty and staff are excluded.

Originally thought to be a “hot-button issue,” advocates say this is just a precaution and policy is expected to pass, McHugh said.

“The thing is it’s not really being rejected, it’s actually being received quite well by all the bodies on this campus,” Ramirez said. “It’s a just-in-case. I think what Mike McHugh is trying to do in this case, again, is apply (the non-discrimination policy) university-wide.”

Instead of addressing one policy within the student handbook, the focus is now on 15 to 20 policies across the board, something that was included in the original proposal but omitted to produce a speedy approval, Lee said.

“Last semester, I made it (the LGBT Advocates’) priority to change this policy,” Lee said. “Because this new movement to change the policy was strictly in the hands of students, the administration felt the need to act on it.”

The process, Ramirez said, is similar to a bill going to the Supreme Court, meaning it must pass through lower chambers first. At UH, the bill starts in the SGA and is passed to the UCC, where it is reviewed and a decision is made on where it goes next.

The UCC is expected to make a decision “sometime within the month,” McHugh said.

“We are closer than ever to changing the policy for good,” says Lee.

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