NC college expands non-discrimination policy to include gender-identity

According to the Greensboro News & Record (h/t Doug Clark, Off the Record), Guilford College in Greensboro, NC has added gender-identity and expression to its non-discrimination policy.

The effort to add the terms was spearheaded by senior David Norton (pictured right – past posts), an active and vocal part of the College and the surrounding area’s LGBT community. Norton is also a co-founder and Executive Director of the National Student Genderblind Campaign, a national non-profit which advocates for gender-blind and trans inclusive policies on college campuses.

Norton has spearheaded an effort to have Guilford adopt gender-blind policies in housing but that has yet to come to fruition.

The change “really allows people to express themselves and the way that they are,” said Norton, 21 . “It’s about the college is sending a message that everyone is embraced in this community.”

Gender identity is how a person decides to personally identify “whether it be a man or a woman or something else all together,” Norton said. Gender expression is how a person expresses himself or herself, such as in dress or speech, he said.

Doug Clark, a News & Record editorial writer takes some concern with the policy change:

It struck me in reading Lanita Withers’ Campus Notebook column today that institutions sometimes set policies in order to satisfy people but don’t necessarily intend to carry them out in all instances.

My theory might not apply to Guilford College, which has expanded its Nondiscriminatory Policy Statement to include “gender identity” and “gender expression” after a lobbying effort by student David Norton. But if this means, as the policy implies, that “access to programs or activities for its student population” can’t be denied on the basis of “gender identity,” then it seems to me that a man would be allowed to identify as a woman for the purpose of playing on the women’s basketball team. But, of course, in reality he wouldn’t be allowed to do that. For one reason, if it included a male in its lineup, the women’s basketball team wouldn’t be allowed to compete against other women’s teams. Nor would a man be allowed to prowl women’s restrooms if he claimed to be feeling feminine at that particular time.

Fortunately, a commenter – Dave Ribar of Applied Rationality comes in to clarify and bring some sanity to the discussion:

The word discriminate has several meanings. The policy language used by Guilford College and other institutions almost certainly follows the definition:

to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit or qualifications.

Some of the more ridiculous examples from you and Brian444, such as the boys trying out for the girls team, the mental ability example, and the campus minister example, come from alternative uses of the word. Unfortunately, Guilford College leaves itself open to this kind of ridicule by not including a glossary of terms in its policy documents.

The issue of gender identity is actually a very tough one for schools to deal with. Trans-gendered people are generally instructed to change their dress and appearance and live that way for some period of time before drug or surgical changes will be made.

The college I attended – The University of North Carolina at Greensboro – has yet to add gender-identity and expression to its non-discrimination statement and policy, but the UNCG Student Government Association does include it in their Constitutional clause on Membership & Eligibility to Vote (thanks, no less, to yours truly when I pushed for that very change during the 2004-2005 Constitutional re-haul).

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One Response to “NC college expands non-discrimination policy to include gender-identity”
  1. Raspberry says:

    Just to clarify:

    “Gender identity is how a person decides to personally identify”

    It isn’t actually a decision. You don’t choose your personal identity; it just is.

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