UN Gender Inclusion Policy (NEW)

0

University of North Dakota President Andy Armacost said a draft gender inclusion policy remains a work in progress and there is no timeline for completing the document.

Armacost addressed the issue at a press conference today (Friday) to address concerns raised by Catholic bishops in North Dakota. Armacost says it remains committed to protecting all members of the campus community from harassment and discrimination.

Armacost says several points in the letter from the Catholic Conference were inaccurate — dealing specifically with housing…roommates…and on-campus living conditions.

Donna Smith is Vice President of Equal Opportunity and Title IX at UND. Smith says that each year the office receives a few discrimination and harassment complaints, including those involving gender identification. Smith says it’s unclear how many incidents are happening because not all of them are reported.

Smith adds that she is not aware of any student in her eight years on campus where a student has been expelled.

Armacost says some of the comments expressed in the letter have led to misinterpretations within the community.

Statement by President Armacost:

Hello, I’m Andrew Armacost and I’m the president of the University of North Dakota. Thanks for joining us.

I’m here today to answer your questions about our university’s draft policy on gender inclusion. On Tuesday, North Dakota Catholic Conference director Christopher Dodson sent a letter to voters raising concerns about the proposed policy. We respect his views and ideas, which I have carefully considered when reviewing this draft policy. I contacted Mr. Dodson yesterday and we had a good discussion on our points of agreement and disagreement. I also assured him that his concerns are important as we review the draft policy.

The University of North Dakota is committed to the well-being of all members of our campus community. Those who have heard me talk about my core values ​​know that my first principle is to love your people. Every student or employee has the right to be protected from harassment or discrimination. The draft policy seeks to affirm our support for our LGBTQ members and, in particular, our transgender and non-binary members, with this same guarantee of access to education and fair employment without fear of discrimination or harassment. That’s what it means to love your people.

Let me address the BASIS OF THE DRAFT POLICY. Federal law backed by Supreme Court and Federal Court decisions added sexual orientation and gender identity as categories protected from discrimination in employment and education. The state of North Dakota also offers protections. In 2020, the state Department of Labor and Human Rights announced that it was adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its list of human rights laws that the department enforces. . State law is also instructive with its definition of discriminatory harassment in education. Finally, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education has adopted a system policy, NDUS 503, which describes the use of the chosen name in our university system.

The draft policy is the result of the work of a campus committee, changes to NDUS policy, and changes we have seen in federal law. These are the same laws that led to the changes made by the State Department of Labor and Human Rights that I cited earlier. The goal of this draft policy was to address issues of gender identity and expression in an accessible and informative document.

Since the public comment period, local legislators have raised their concerns and we have had helpful conversations with them. Every conversation I have about this policy, whether for or against, is helpful.

Allow me to address specific points in Mr. Dodson’s letter that I believe require clarification.

“Failure to comply with the policy would constitute a violation of the UND Policy on Discrimination and Harassment.” This is not the case. Referring to someone by the wrong gender can only violate the policy if it was done intentionally and meets the definition of harassment: that the behavior is so serious, pervasive and objectively offensive that it deprives a person equal access to UND programs and activities. It is

laws that the department applies. State law is also instructive with its definition of discriminatory harassment in education. Finally, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education has adopted a system policy, NDUS 503, which describes the use of the chosen name in our university system.

The draft policy is the result of the work of a campus committee, changes to NDUS policy, and changes we have seen in federal law. These are the same laws that led to the changes made by the State Department of Labor and Human Rights that I cited earlier. The goal of this draft policy was to address issues of gender identity and expression in an accessible and informative document.

Since the public comment period, local legislators have raised their concerns and we have had helpful conversations with them. Every conversation I have about this policy, whether for or against, is helpful.

Allow me to address specific points in Mr. Dodson’s letter that I believe require clarification.

  • “Failure to comply with the policy would constitute a violation of the UND Policy on Discrimination and Harassment.” This is not the case. Referring to someone by the wrong gender can only violate the policy if it was done intentionally and meets the definition of harassment: that the behavior is so serious, pervasive and objectively offensive that it deprives a person equal access to UND programs and activities. This is consistent with the definition adopted by the state legislature in the last legislative session regarding student-to-student harassment.
  • “The proposed policy applies to on-campus housing, which UND requires for all first-year students.” This is misleading, as it implies that a student is locked into a particular way of life. There are exceptions to this requirement for a number of reasons. The process for obtaining an exception is well described in our housing policy manual. In addition, the process of changing roommates is also well described.
  • “An individual will be allocated housing based on their ‘expressed gender’ rather than their biological sex..” It’s not true. The draft policy does not address the details of the housing allocation process. The wording of the draft policy is intended to provide assurance that trans and gender non-conforming students will have access to housing consistent with their gender identity. Here’s how the process works: Students are assigned roommates based on their legal gender. The Housing Office will work with students whose legal sex does not match their gender identity to identify a lifestyle that would best enable them to succeed. In situations where a gender-neutral assignment is made, all housemates must accept the assignment. Students can also change roommates for any reason.
  • “In fact, no one, apparently, can find out the real sex of the individual.” Housing decisions are, in fact, made on the basis of biological sex. If you are assigned a room with another person, their biological sex will be the same as yours.

The consequence of Mr. Dodson’s statements has led to widespread confusion and misinterpretation among many in the community.

Moreover, there was no imminent approval of this draft policy, and I am disturbed by the timing of his letter, which insinuated an urgency that, frankly, was not there. In fact, because of the comments from the Catholic Conference on the draft policy that we received in October, I warned my staff that we needed to take our time reviewing this policy, considering the wide range of input we had received and look for additional contributions following revisions.

As I search for common points of agreement, here is the important concept that I think we both agree on: how to create a campus environment that is safe for everyone and free from harassment and discrimination. This applies to both our LGBTQ+ groups and our religious groups.

The federal government, the Supreme Court, and the state of North Dakota outline what it takes to create such an environment. As the leader of this great public university, I have an unwavering commitment to ensuring that every human being on our campus is treated with dignity and respect and given the protections under the law.

Statement from Christopher Dodson:

We appreciate that University of North Dakota President Andrew Armacost has taken the time to address some of the concerns that the Catholic Conference of North Dakota and many others have expressed about the policy of gender inclusion proposed by the university.

We share the University’s desire to create a harassment-free learning environment. The published proposal, however, was too broad.

We appreciate the clarification on the housing issue. Future iterations of the proposal, if any, should clearly address this issue. Students should not, however, have to rely on obtaining an exemption from the on-campus housing policy or requesting a change of roommate to ensure the student is placed with someone of the same sex.

We appreciate that President Armacost has found our concerns about free speech and religious freedom helpful. We look forward to concrete responses from the university to each of the concerns if the proposal goes ahead.

Finally, we want to take this opportunity to dispel a misconception regarding the letter published earlier this week. The letter was not sent to the parents of the UND students. It was sent to parents of Catholic secondary school students and, in some cases, to other Catholic parishioners with secondary school students. This “urgency,” as President Armacost put it, was that Catholic high school students and parents will soon be making decisions about college plans, and the bishops felt they should be aware of the policy. possible. He was not addressing the university, its students, or the parents of those students.

Share.

Comments are closed.