Strides needed towards more inclusive campus

Letter to Editor by Watson Harding

UK has a long way to go toward its goal of being a top-20 university.

This includes not just better labs or world class staff, but also the need to improve accessibility and inclusiveness.

Unfortunately, UK lags behind in providing adequate resources and protection for people who do not identify as a man or a woman.

No matter the terminology you use, transgendered, gender queer, androgyne, etc, these individuals need equal access.

Gender is a social construct that has been wrongly tied to biological sex in our society. A great many people do not fall in this binary.

UK shoots itself in the foot by precluding exceptional staff and students who choose not to attend because of their gender identity or expression.

There needs to be adequate facilities for non-gender conforming people. This includes at least one gender-neutral, single person use bathroom in each campus building.

Some buildings already have these facilities. In fact in some buildings the only bathroom is gender neutral for want of space. This facility equality is essentially free for the university. It merely needs to designate one pre-existing bathroom per building as gender neutral and advertise the fact.

These students face a daunting situation with housing. Will their roommate accept them? May they face slurs, threats, even violence?

Residence Life should establish one dorm or floor of a dorm as gender neutral. Resident Advisors should be educated about gender identity and how to help their residents.

Lastly, Ryan Smith and the UK Board of Trustees must endeavor to add gender identity to the university’s non-discrimination clause in hiring and the workplace.

UK loses talented staff who are gender non-conforming or allies to the 266 other universities with policies in place including basketball nemeses Duke and Louisville and even Tennessee.

If UK wants to operate as this state’s flagship university and become a top-20 university it is imperative that we all push for UK to enter the 21st century and welcome all of this community’s students and faculty.

Watson Harding

Co-President Gay-Straight Alliance, history and geography junior