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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Staff Editorial

Awareness must follow bill passage


It has been a week since the passage of the Josephine Tittsworth Act, which affirms transgender students’ right to identify with their preferred name and gender rather than what is printed on their birth certificate.

The Daily Cougar Editorial Board applauds the Student Government Association’s passing of this bill.

This act not only affirms the rights of transgender students, but it also protects those students from possible acts of discrimination and violence from their peers based on their gender presentation.

The passing of this bill also opens a new door for a different kind of diversity on campus.

“Although we talk about being ethnically diverse, that’s not where it stops,” said SGA President Charles Haston on the night the bill was passed.

“I’ve learned so much from this school and learned how to respect and work with other people that I wouldn’t normally learn how to work with.”

While the act wasn’t passed unanimously, it is important to remember that the opposition to the bill, as well as the reason this bill had to be passed in the first place, was because of a lack of awareness in the community.

But this lack of awareness does not constitute sentiments of hatred or bigotry towards member of the LGBT community.

Many students who were against this bill and the SGA senators who voted against it, like Senator-at-Large Alan Garza, are not “intolerant and close-minded.”

It is also important to remember that SGA senators like Garza are expected to act on behalf of the interest of their constituents.

So while it is great that our fellow students are stepping up and fighting for what’s right, the passage of the Josephine Tittsworth Act should be a prompt for UH administrators to play a more active role in spreading awareness and acceptance for this part of our community.

This can range from conferences and advertisements to providing a more accommodating infrastructure for LGBT students, as administrators at the University of Houston-Downtown campus did earlier this year with its gender-neutral restrooms. Here at UH, we already have 14 gender-neutral, single-stall restrooms for the community to use.

This bill is a good start, but it will need the full strength and support of the UH administration to help shape campus culture into one of all-around acceptance.

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