Faculty guide to working with Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming students in the classroom
Important 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.
3.) Federal Title IX regulations regarding sex based discrimination in Higher Education also include gender identity based discrimination in Higher-Ed. Therefore discrimination or harassment against transgender students because of their identity or expression may also amount to sex based discrimination that can be actionable under Title IX.
Examples of offenses that can amount to gender identity based discrimination or harassment include refusing to use a student's preferred name or pronouns in the classroom; repeatedly mis-naming or mis-gendering a student in the classroom after you have been notified of their status and preferences; outing a transgender student's status via group emails or postings; retaliation or active discrimination against a transgender student by limiting their participation and opportunities in classroom; and refusing to allow a transgender student the right to access or use a restroom in keeping with their gender identity.
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 have created a new preferred name option for students that will correct their internal records allowing class rosters and Blackboard to automatically show a preferred name if the student opts into this system. If a student asks you to use a preferred name and pronouns in class please encourage them to consider taking advantage of this new program. It is private to activate and will allow the student to streamline the use of a preferred name in select locations of student information data. Whether or not a student chooses to activate this program, do your best to accommodate these requests. Manually correct your roster. If you make an error, quickly and matter-of-factly correct yourself (as you would when accidentally using the wrong pronoun or name for anyone else in class) and later apologize to the student in private.
Use of the preferred name option will accommodate most of the students needs. Their preferred name will replace their legal name as it appears on course rosters, advising transcripts, the global email directory and display name, Blackboard rosters, the CollegiateLink, and the students ID card if desired. To use this option the student simply submits a Preferred First Name Policy webform located in the Office of the Registrar website. To learn more about this option please also visit this website.
The university strongly encourages transgender or gender non-conforming students who have not yet secured a legal name change to use the new preferred first name program. If you have a student who has not activated a preferred name in the program please be conscious that online learning tools can have many unintended impacts for these students. Online peer posting assignments can have the effect of outing them to their peers if their Blackboard names do match a preferred name used in class. Consider offering private submission assignments instead of group post-and-respond style assignments. You could also consider offering alternative assignments to the student if they have expressed concerns over peer postings. These are a few ways that you can better accommodate Trans students in your classrooms and minimize the potential for an accidental outing.
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 automatically receive the list of classmates' legal names as they appear in the email directory.
If you are made aware of a student's LGBQ or transgender status do not assume other professors, friends, or family are also aware of the student's 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 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.
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.
- Also See:
- 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 first point of contact for information about LGBT life and student support services at CCSU. To join email LGBT@ccsu and sign up for an upcoming Safe Zone Training date.