There are so many ways to make your campus a learning environment that supports all identities and backgrounds. Start with these 5 (borrowed with gratitude from Cambridge University Student’s Union) and you’ll be on your way!
This is a list of the recommendations that the campaign makes and hopefully over time we can add more detail to these.
1) Toilet and changing facilities
One of the biggest issues affecting non-binary-gendered people is toilet facilities as there are very few gender neutral toilet facilities despite the large number of single cubicle facilities around. This forces people with non-binary gender to make a difficult and often public choice. It could also force transgendered people to “out” themselves, leaving them open to hostility or even violence.
The most common example is toilet facilities, which are frequently designated “men” and “women”. Individual toilet facilities should, wherever possible, be gender-neutral (if there are several such it is not necessary for all to be gender-neutral). Please consider this whenever designing or refurbishing toilet facilities, and please consider re-designating existing single-cubicle facilities.
Another example is changing rooms. As well as being designated male and female, requiring people to make a binary choice, these are often communal. This presents further difficulty for those, for example, whose genitalia do not match their gender, as well as for those with various mental health conditions. Therefore, we recommend the provision of changing facilities that are both gender-neutral and secluded.
When labelling gender-neutral facilities, please avoid using pictographs that merely juxtapose “male” and “female” symbols. A worded sign, pictograph of a toilet or similar is preferable because it avoids exclusion of people with non-binary genders.
2) Dress codes
One of the more problematic areas for non-binary-gendered people within the university is the prevalence of gendered dress codes for events (including Matriculation, Graduation, May Balls and black tie dinners in general). Many people find complying with these dress codes extremely stressful at a time which should be a happy one. Currently most dress codes for formal events in the university have two separate codes for Men and Women which is extremely inaccessible. Ideally all dress codes should be a single code providing a set of clothing which is appropriate for the event, if you do not feel able to do this a lesser but still positive step would be that if you require two separate codes that you do not specify which can be used by which gender. For example: “The dress code is black tie suit or a formal dress”. We do encourage you to be as inclusive as possible in your dress codes.
3) Avoiding binary-gendered language
These days, most people try to avoid making assumptions about gender. Unfortunately, many common “gender-neutral” phrases still reinforce the idea of gender as binary, such as “Dear Sir/Madam” and “ladies and gentlemen”. We are collecting example of gender neutral alternatives to some binary-gendered language. Do email us with further suggestions.
4) When holding events be clear about restrictions
Sometimes when holding an event you may need to place restrictions of the gender of attendees. Unless there is a very strong reason (such as a genetic study), if an event is for one binary gender only always include everyone identifying as that gender. Consider using language such as ‘self-identified women’ or e.g. ‘self-identified men and similar identities’, if you want to include non-binary-gendered people who feel close to a male identity and are comfortable in a male space.
5) Other issues and feedback
Always be listening to the needs of your students. Be open to feedback and ever-evolving to adapt to those needs.