Were you ever cheesed at your housing assignment during your college years? Were you put on a wait list? Placed in “overflow” accommodations until something became available?
That’s just referring to traditional housing options. Special living arrangements can be even tougher to come by.
USA Today recently thought it was worthy to highlight the travails of two LGBTQ students in acquiring specialized accommodations, in this case “gender-inclusive” housing.
The students interviewed complained such living arrangements aren’t “perfect.”
According to the paper, “gender-inclusive” housing is “meant to […] make students feel safe regardless of their gender identity and gender expression,” but too often leaves them “appalled, anxious and excluded.”
For example, transgender (male) student Niko Powell from New Jersey complained that the price of gender-inclusive housing “was far out of his price range”; as a result, he had to find roommates for a “gender-neutral suite” himself.
If he didn’t, he’d be assigned to an all-female floor with accompanying single-sex provisions.
On the other hand, gender-inclusive housing at a Massachusetts college was “one of the cheaper options” for non-binary Frankie Perrin. But as an honors student Perrin wanted to live in the honors dorm which, they discovered to their dismay (Perrin uses plural pronouns), doesn’t have gender-inclusive accommodations.
Perrin said they felt “othered” and “hurt” that the honors dorm was denied them.
“They advertise how queer-friendly they are and 10% of the people there are queer,” Perrin shared. “I just didn’t want to have to lie to get into the dorm that I wanted to get into. I didn’t even think that it was going to be an issue in the first place because they didn’t advertise that when I was initially applying for housing.”
Perrin said they understand the school can’t simply build gender-neutral bathrooms in the honors housing, but would appreciate it if their websites specified that earlier. They said they also hope the school works toward building more gender-inclusive dorms in better locations.
Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer said LGBTQ students “shouldn’t have to go out of their way to ask for an accommodation in the first place.”
Windemeyer added that gender-inclusive housing needs to be “financially equitable for LGBTQ+ students.” If such housing is more expensive “than a similar living type,” then transgender/non-binary students should have the difference “subsidized.”
“You can’t expect a student to get good grades, if they have to be fearful when they go to the residence hall (and) where they live and sleep at night,” Windmeyer said.
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