For many students, heading off to college or back to school can be a time of reinvention — or the first time many of those students, such as those who identify as gender-fluid, can truly feel themselves.
As millions of students across the country head back to school this month, we take a look at some institutions’ inclusion initiatives for gender-fluid students.
But first, in case you need a refresher, Census.gov defines gender-fluid as “a person whose gender identification and presentation shifts, whether within or outside societal, gender-based expectations. Being fluid in motion between two or more genders.”
Gender-fluid on college campuses
Many colleges across the country have adapted to their growing gender-fluid student bodies by adding all-gender, aka gender-neutral restrooms or housing.
Starting this fall, Harvard College, Harvard University’s undergrad liberal arts school, is offering gender-neutral housing to first-year students, which the school said on its website “reaffirms gender diversity as an important aspect of our campus life by offering a pathway to housing that is not predicated on the notion that there are essential characteristics that render single-gender housing necessary.” The option was already available for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
In addition to offering all-gender bathrooms and gender-inclusive housing, New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology will host a Civility Week on Oct. 8-11, featuring talks and activities, such as its first-ever Diversity Con, that aim to highlight respectful ways of living and learning.
In 2016, New York’s Columbia University adopted a “preferred name” policy that allows students to change their first and/or middle name on ID cards, class rosters and more. The school also offers medical service coverage for transgender students, gender-neutral bathrooms and more.
“At a time when many hard-won protections and policies are under scrutiny and challenge, our diversity is among our important — indeed, fundamental — institutional values,” Suzanne B. Goldberg wrote on the Office of University Life’s website last year.
Drexel University in Philadelphia provides students the Gender and Sexuality Resource Space, which allows students of all sexual orientation and gender identities to use on- and off-campus resources, services and programs to “explore, celebrate and educate the campus community about the diverse gender and sexual identities.”
Across town, Temple University’s IDEAL — Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership — program provides supportive resources, forums, training workshops and more to raise awareness, visibility and advocacy for the LGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, the school offers an annual week of programming for National Coming Out Week (NCOW) in October and centralized information on all-gender bathrooms, gender-inclusive housing and guidance on gender-inclusive personal pronouns at diversity.temple.edu.