The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals has issued a response to Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli II, who last week advised Virginia’s public universities to rescind their non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
That I know of, the Consortium is the first student affairs organization to speak out in this way. I’m proud of my colleagues in the Consortium for leading a trend of higher education professionals who preach what they practice.
Here is the full statement:
The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, a national organization of more than 400 college faculty, staff, and administrators who provide support and services to LGBT students, strongly urges institutions of higher education throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia to maintain protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression in statements of non-discrimination.
The lack of inclusive policies place students who might identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) at great risk, as discrimination against students, faculty and staff who are LGBT or perceived as LGBT is widespread. A national campus climate study by Sue Rankin, entitled Campus Climate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: A National Perspective, found that 41 percent of the self-identified transgender students who participated reported experiencing verbal and/or physical harassment on their campuses. Many of the transgender participants were not open about their gender identity for fear of being harassed. Similarly, more than one-third of all LGBT respondent experiences some sort of harassment. In the same study, 74 percent of respondents rated overall campus climate as homophobic.
As educators and administrators, we are charged with ensuring that our campuses remain a safe, affirming environment for all students of all identities. One of the most important signposts of an institution’s welcoming environment is their non-discrimination statement. These policies not only provide tangible support to those directly named, but also send a strong message that discrimination will not be tolerated. By removing sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression, institutions essentially signal that discrimination against LGBT students, faculty and staff is acceptable.
We hope you will reaffirm your commitment to serving all students by maintaining named protections for LGBT people in statements of non-discrimination.
Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals