Things to know:
1.) CCSU's Non-Discrimination Policy protects CCSU students and employees from discrimination and barriers to an equitable learning environment based on their sexual orientation or their gender identity / expression.
Central Connecticut State University Nondiscrimination in Education and Employment Policy (see full CCSU policy here)
Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in education and employment. No person shall be discriminated against in terms and conditions of employment, personnel practices, or access to or participation in programs, services and activities with regard to: age; ancestry, color; gender identity and expression; intellectual disability; learning disability; mental disorder; physical disability; marital status, national origin; race; religious creed; sex, including pregnancy, transgender status, sexual harassment and sexual assault; sexual orientation; or any other status protected by federal or state laws. Discrimination in employment based on genetic information is prohibited. In addition, CCSU will not refuse to hire solely because of a prior criminal conviction, unless that refusal is permitted by Connecticut law...
This policy shall apply to all individuals affiliated with CCSU including, but not limited to, students, employees, applicants, agents and guests and is intended to protect the rights of concerned individuals.
Discrimination is defined as conduct that is directed at an individual because of his or her protected class and subjects the individual to different treatment so as to interfere with or limit the ability of the individual to participate in, or benefit from, the services, activities, or privileges provided by the university or otherwise adversely affects the individual's employment or education.
2.) The Connecticut State anti-discrimination laws also protect our students from discrimination and barriers to an equitable learning environment based on their sexual orientation or their gender identity / expression.
(See the CT Safe Schools Coalition's guidelines for compliance with CT Public Act No. 11-55)
3.) Title IX regulations regarding sex based discrimination in Higher Education can and have been interpreted to include gender identity based discrimination in Higher-Ed. Discrimination against transgender students because of their identity or expression may also amount to sex based discrimination and can be actionable under Title IX.
What does this mean for you in the classroom working with your students?
- We are required to honor a student's preferred name and gender pronouns at this University. When a student makes you aware that they use a name or gender pronoun that is different from what will appear on the class roster, you are required to make a conscious effort to comply with the student's request. Using the wrong name or gender pronouns in classrooms has the effect of accidentally outing the student to their peers and making known their status as a transgender person.
- At CCSU we are now working on preferred name option that will correct student's internal records, allowing class rosters and Blackboard to automatically show a preferred name if the student opts into this system. Until this system is in place you may continue being exposed to prior information about a student's name or gender. Do your best to accommodate these requests. If you make an error, quickly and matter-of-factly correct yourself (as if you would when accidentally using the wrong pronoun or name for anyone else in class) and later apologize to the student in private.
- Until the system is in place to allow the use of a preferred name, please also be conscious of the unintended impact that using online learning tools can have for these students. Online peer posting assignments also have the effect of outing these students to their peers when the Blackboard names do match a preferred name used in class. Consider offering private submission assignments instead of group post-and-respond style assignments. When the preferred name option has been implemented across our system this will no longer be an issue because the Blackboard rosters will then show the student's preferred name instead of a legal one. Until then think of ways to help accommodate these students in your classrooms and minimize the potential for an accidental outing. You could also consider offering alternative assignments to the student if they have expressed concerns over peer postings.
- Along the same lines emails sent to your class can also have the unintentional effect of outing your students. Consider sending emails to your classes using the "BCC" blind copy field instead of the regular "To" or "CC" fields. When you use this feature the email recipients will not also receive a list of classmates legal names as they currently appear in the email directory along with every email message that you send out for class.
- If you are made aware of students LGBQ or transgender status do not assume other professors, friends, or family are also aware of the students status.
- We are doing more to improve our student support services for Transgender and gender non-conforming students and it will take some to implement necessary changes.
- Be aware that there are very few gender neutral neutral bathrooms available on campus for the students that require them. In some cases a student may have to travel quite a bit from your class to use the restroom. At the same time understand that we cannot require students to use only certain bathroom on campus. Although we do offer gender neutral restrooms, students must be allowed to use restrooms in keeping with their gender identity not their legal sex.
Recommended reading for all CCSU Faculty:
Dean Spades journal article on working with Transgender students in the classroom.
"Some Very Basic Tips for Making Higher Education More Accessible to Trans Students and Rethinking How We Talk about Gendered Bodies"
Author Dean Spade is a professor at the University of Seattle School of Law. He published this article as a guide for faculty from faculty, highlighting valuable skills that he has learned trying to better serve his transgender students. It is an excellent and very quick read on what you can do to create a safer and more equitable learning environment for your students.
Preferred Gender Pronouns: For Faculty
(Or, How to Take Important Steps in Becoming a Trans Ally!)
This is another great quick guide for faculty that was developed for Hampshire College. Consider working on these skills and standards for your classrooms here at CCSU.
Want to Learn how to be a more visible and active Ally for your LGBT students?
Join the CCSU Safe Zone Program. Safe Zone members include CCSU Faculty, Staff, Administrators, and Students. The program creates a visible support network of allies who can act as a welcoming 1st point of contact for information about LGBT life and student support services at CCSU.
(See upcoming Safe Zone Training Dates Here!)