On Feb. 22, the Trump administration withdrew federal guidelines issued last year regarding transgender students’ rights.
The University at Buffalo Working Group for Transgender Inclusion is a team of faculty and staff that examines policies and practices to support the full inclusion of the transgender community. Its co-chairs are Teri Miller, UB’s vice provost for equity and inclusion, and Sharon Nolan-Weiss, director of UB’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Title IX coordinator.
The following is a statement from Miller and Nolan-Weiss:
As co-chairs of UB’s Working Group for Transgender Inclusion, we want to reaffirm UB’s commitment to promoting the full inclusion of our transgender community, and to clarify the rights and protections that exist for everyone. A few points are important:
- The Feb. 22 decision from the federal Justice and Education departments withdrew guidance that would require schools nationwide to adopt certain protections based on gender identity and gender expression. These protections included, but were not limited to, the use of preferred names and pronouns, allowing the use of physical facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms consistent with gender identity, prohibiting harassment, and providing for participation on athletic teams for transitioning students. The decision clarifies that federal protections still require schools to maintain harassment-free environments for our students, including LBGT students. It leaves other policies up to individual states.
- New York State law and UB’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy specifically prohibit discrimination based upon gender identity and gender expression. They also require UB to provide accommodations when necessary for the full inclusion and participation of our transgender community.
- Accommodations for our transgender community include respecting individuals’ preferred names and pronouns. Our community members also have the right to use restrooms and changing facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. A person may choose to use a gender-neutral/single-occupancy facility, or a shared restroom that is consistent with the individual’s gender identity. We have a growing number of single-occupancy restroom facilities, and will arrange for accommodations when shared shower and/or changing room facilities are not a welcoming option.
- The UB Division of Athletics’ Inclusion Policy of Transgender Student Athletes mirrors NCAA policy. This policy clarifies the participation of student-athletes who are undergoing hormonal treatment for gender transition, and the process student-athletes should follow. The policy also sets expectations of the UB Athletics community in fostering inclusion for transgender athletes.
- UB’s Working Group for Transgender Inclusion was formed to develop policies, practices and strategies to facilitate a comfortable, safe and inclusive environment for our transgender community. Regardless of changes at the federal level, we will continue our work to ensure that UB welcomes everyone.
More information about the rights and protections of our transgender community and the working group can be found on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion website.