Sep 24, 2007
News: US College Students: Campus Climate Chilly on Gender
By Sven Rabatzky
(USA) - The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) today announced findings of its first US-wide campus climate survey focusing on how Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender students are treated because of their gender identity and expression. Some 651 students from across the USA responded to the 2007 Survey, many sharing personal experiences of feeling unsafe or excluded because they didn't meet expectations for masculinity or femininity.
Some 30% of student respondents have been harassed or discriminated against on campus because they didn't fit expectations of masculinity or femininity; 13% have been harassed for using gender-specific restrooms; and 25% have felt unsafe in campus housing. In addition, 1-in-4 students of color reported being harassed or discriminated against.
Said one student, "I've been loudly screamed at in a women's bathroom because someone decided I wasn't supposed to be there, and I've been leered at and yelled at on my way to work and class. I've been told by administrators that my comfort was a marginal concern and that I was bringing any harassment on myself."
"You can't learn if you aren't safe," said Brittney Hoffman, GenderPAC's Campus Director. "Educators, administrators, and even student advocates need to be focusing on how to make campuses GenderSAFE -- supportive, protective, and equitable -- for all students, whether or not they fit expectations for masculinity or femininity."
Key findings of the report are:
▪ Overall, thirty percent of college students reported discrimination or harassment because they didn't fit expectations for masculinity and femininity.
▪ Two-thirds of students at schools without policies addressing gender identity and expression reported gender-based harassment, almost double that reported at schools with inclusive policies.
▪ One in eight students have been harassed in a campus restroom for not meeting expectations of masculinity or femininity.
▪ More than half (50.4%) of all students on campuses with no gender-neutral restrooms would feel safer if they were made available.
▪ One-quarter of students have felt unsafe in campus housing because they didn't fit expectations of masculinity or femininity.
▪ More than half (57%) would feel safer if the gender-neutral rooming options were available.
In its 2007 GENIUS Index, GenderPAC found nearly 150 colleges and universities have expanded their non-discrimination policies to explicitly include "gender identity and expression." More than 140 have made gender-neutral campus restrooms available, and 30 offer gender-neutral student housing options.
The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition works to ensure that classrooms, communities, and workplaces are safe for everyone to learn, grow, and succeed -- whether or not they fit expectations for masculinity or femininity.