Sexual orientation and gender identity have been hot topics on college campuses in recent weeks, especially with the intense debate over House Bill 2 in North Carolina. This so-called “bathroom bill” became law late last month, repealing local ordinances in Charlotte and elsewhere aimed at expanding protections for the LGBTQ community.
According to Inside Higher Ed, the law now requires public colleges to segregate restrooms by biological birth gender, forcing transgender students and faculty members to use facilities that don't reflect their identities.
Campus Pride, a national nonprofit that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ students, argued that HB2 threatens student safety and could jeopardize billions in federal financial aid to North Carolina colleges and universities if it is found to violate Title IX, the longstanding federal law protecting students against discrimination based on sex.
“This law only exacerbates the issue causing harm to vulnerable LGBTQ young people and will result in legal challenges due to unfair conditions for transgender students,” the group said in a statement.
Core to this story are the issues of inclusion and safety of LGBTQ students. Despite the fact that private institutions are not directly affected by the North Carolina law, many have been quick to oppose it and to remind the public of their inclusive policies.
Duke University, the first private institution to denounce the law, not long ago found itself at the center of another debate related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
At Duke and other campuses around the country, people are asking questions about what information should be captured about a student's sexual orientation and gender identity during the admissions process. Some fear asking such questions on college applications could influence admissions decisions, while others are concerned that not asking sends a message that a university won’t acknowledge LGBTQ students and provide appropriate services for them on campus. Proponents of including a question on the admissions form argue that if a university doesn’t know the number of LGBTQ students it serves, it can’t serve them adequately.
We recently spoke to Campus Pride executive director Shane Windmeyer and other student advocates for the second episode of our new podcast Upgraded by Hobsons.
Check out the interview below, and share your thoughts on this story by tweeting #UpgradedbyHobsons.