“what’s this all about?”
- Want to have the option of rooming with whom you choose, regardless of their gender? We think so too. The National Student Genderblind Campaign is a rapidly growing student movement to promote gender-neutral rooming options at colleges across the nation. We work with college students, administrators, staff, LGBT organizations, and human rights’ groups to ensure that college policies and practices are affirmative to all students.
“why should i care?”
Because this effects everyone. Gay, straight, trans, whatever your identity or orientation may be — this is about all of us.
- University mandated gender-based segregation is a gross and arbitrary enfringment to our right as students — and our license as adults — to self-determination.
- Traditional rooming policies — those without gender-neutral options — are heterosexist, oppressive, and anti-affirmative:
- they marginalize gay, lesbian, bisexual, and students of various sexual orientations who feel comfortable, or more comfortable, rooming with someone of the opposite sex/gender;
- they alienate transgender, genderqueer, and intersexed students who are forced into discriminatory, gendered rooming situations based on biological/legal sex rather than gender identification;
- they assume that men and women can never, and will never, live together non-sexually given the choice to do so;
- and they needlessly reinforce an oppressive gender binary and perpetuate gender segregation.
- Gender-restrictive policy is an everyday, yet often unnoticed, manifestation of instutional heterosexism. At its core — in a heterosexually dominated culture — heterosexism assumes that heterosexual relationships represent the norm and are, therefore, implictely superior to “non-normative” relationships.
“what about the objections?”
Some people claim or fear that gender-neutral housing will result in an increase in straight couples rooming together, promiscuity, and a potential for violence. We have found that through talking to campus administrators and college students who have gender-neutral housing available, these problems simply do not arise.
While, gender-neutral housing technically allows straight couples to room together (though some schools ban couples of any sexual orientation from living together), we have found that few couples choose to live together. While gay and lesbian couples are currently allowed to room together, there are not many cases of them doing so – the proportion of gay couples on campus to those gay couples who choose to be roommates is so small it is negligible. There is no reason to assume that heterosexual couples would be more likely to room together than homosexual couples. Furthermore, in the colleges we have surveyed, none reported any more problems with heterosexual couples choosing to be roommates than with homosexual couples. In fact, college administrators with gender-neutral housing report that only about 2-3 percent of all students decide to have a roommate of a different sex.
To address the concern of an increase of violence—we believe that this view fails to take into account the reality of both the current situation and our proposed solution. First of all, this view is based on the assumption that the only sexual violence that occurs is towards women from men. This does not recognize the fact that men can take advantage of other men and that women can take advantage of other women, as well as that women can take advantage of men; our current housing policies brush this fact away and do little to prevent it.
“where is the movement happening?”
The movement to bring more equitable gender identity policies and practices to colleges is happening on colleges across the country. Just take a look at our research file and see what colleges are doing. Colleges from the Midwest to the Northeast to the South and West Coast are all working on these issues. Large research institutions like University of Pennsylvania to small liberal arts colleges like Swarthmore College have established gender-neutral housing options. Simply put, this movement transcends all geographic, social, and political demographics. College students everywhere are starting to address these critical issues.