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Duke University Causes Headaches By Not Having A Transgender Student Plan

Some educational institutions just don’t plan for the inevitable reality that transgender students will likely sooner, rather than later, show up at their schools.

At Duke University last weekend, a…

Craven Quadrangle Bathroom Door…transgender student who is awaiting sexual reassignment surgery and was temporarily granted access to a female restroom while living in a male wing of Craven Quadrangle relocated Monday, officials confirmed.

Last Spring, Residence Life and Housing Services gave the student the option to either go through Room Pix or choose different quarters with a private bathroom. Using Room Pix, the student chose an available room in Craven Quadrangle House B-a male wing which uses a community bathroom.

Perhaps the most difficult to comprehend part of this story is how little Duke University planned for the eventuality that at some point they would have a transgender student living in a dorm room:

University officials said RLHS had no pre-existing policy for transgender students, and deals with special housing needs on an individual basis.

What happened at this southern school was predictable.  A parent complained to the school about his daughter using the same bathroom as the transgender student:

This past Monday morning, the student was moved to an one-person room that had an attached, private bathroom.

This all could have been avoided.  It’s not as if universities are in the dark about transgender students. The EdgeBoston/Bay Windows just reported this morning that…

…a survey of the nation’s universities and public school districts to examine their policies related to gender identity and expression. One of the key findings of the survey was that among the top 25 schools on the 2008 “America’s Best Colleges” list compiled by U.S. News and World Report, two-thirds have non-discrimination policies covering gender identity or expression. Of the 278 colleges and universities surveyed, 147 have trans-inclusive non-discrimination policies.

Transgender students are here, and are coming out in enough numbers that “two-thirds [of surveyed universities] have non-discrimination policies covering gender identity or expression.”

Putting the transgender student and the concerned parent through the mess Duke put them through by failing to develop a plan is just unconscionable.  Duke should have been prepared for transgender students, and they were not.

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Autumn Sandeen

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