Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's up to us to talk about gender identity when Belmont comes up...and every time!

Have you been reading and listening carefully to the reports and statements about discrimination at Belmont University? If you have, you might have noticed that there's a lot of talk about sexual orientation but there needs to be more discussion of gender identity.

When the topic comes up, it's up to you and me to make sure gender identity is included in the discussion.

Guess what! There's a great word that can help--AND. That simple conjunction has the power to make our movement inclusive. "Sexual orientation AND gender identity"--see, it's easy.

Why it's important: Transgender people experience an unusually high level of discrimination and violence in our society. We all know that. The trick is to remember it every time we're talking about changing a policy. Adding just sexual orientation doesn't protect transgender people. Here's an axiom of activism: If you don't ask specifically for something (namely, the inclusion of gender identity), you have almost no chance of getting it. So ask for it!

I want to reiterate what TEP said in our statement on Monday:

"Therefore, we call on the Belmont University board of trustees to reconsider these actions and to amend their policies to protect staff, faculty, and students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity."

There's not a superfluous word in that sentence. We think the policy change should protect faculty, staff, and students and it should include both sexual orientation AND gender identity. If we as a community are not united in calling for every bit of that, people who need protection will be left out. And that's not acceptable.

Are you willing to use the word AND to make a difference?

-Chris Sanders

1 comment:

TLS said...

Chris, I love you AND I think your wisdom is needed now more than ever. The conversation around truly inclusive policies of harassment and discrimination must take place in every workplace! Equality for some is equality for none. I hope others will join us in advocating for fully inclusive workplace policies that include sexual orientation AND gender identity.