Lagging on LGBT Rights, University of Miami Finally Announces Gender-Neutral Housing
University of Miami Students and Sebastian the Ibis march in the 2014 Miami Gay Pride parade.
Photos by George Martinez/gmartnx.com
Given its private and non-religious nature and its location in cosmopolitan Miami, one might expect the University of Miami to be a leader in accommodating LGBT students ... at least in the South. Turns out that's not the case. Not even close. They're not even one of the best schools for LGBT students in Florida.
That's according to the 2015 Campus Pride Index, which ranks schools that volunteer information on their inclusive policies aimed toward LGBT students. UM got a paltry 3 out of 5 stars. That's behind the four stars that both the University of North Florida and Central Florida received (many other Florida schools like UF and FSU did not participate).
Turns out Miami was lacking in a lot of ways. The school only recently added gender identity to its official nondiscrimination policy (though, not in time to be counted in the Campus Pride Index).
Now, new university president Dr. Julio Frenk has taken another big step by announcing the school will soon introduce gender neutral housing. The announcement was made yesterday in Frenk's first townhall-style meeting with students.
The move also follows an open letter published on Medium.com that lambasted the school for dragging its feet on LGBT-inclusive policies.
"Right now, the University of Miami is not an LGBTQ-friendly institution," wrote alumnus Ryan Aquilina. "I could mince words, but it’s the truth. And when you love something like I love UM, sometimes you have to be willing to be honest."
While Aquilina acknowledged that the University of Miami is a pretty socially accepting campus, he noted the school's embarrassing track record when it comes to LGBT services when compared to similar schools.
· UM still lacks any comprehensive policy toward trans* students, meaning that despite non-discrimination policies, it is often in fact university policy to discriminate against them.
· UM is one of only five top 50 universities without a resource center or any dedicated professional resources for LGBTQ students, and one of only 15 without a gender-neutral housing option.
· And when scored by the non-profit organization Campus Pride last year, UM came up dead last among the top 50 schools scored.
Hundreds of colleges across the nation offer trans-inclusive gender neutral housing, including the following public schools in Florida: UCF, New College, USF, and UNF. FSU is also working towards instituting a program.
Most programs allow students to room if they mutually agree to room together regardless of gender. That kind of policy is considered necessary by many trans students to make sure they are comfortable in their living situation. Frenk however did not provide details on how exactly UM's plan will take place.
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