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Letter to the editor: Halting the gender-inclusion policy at UND could be detrimental

Time and again, we have seen this proposed hypocrisy: the campus is not welcoming to all when it refuses to enact policies that will protect some of the most vulnerable members of the campus community.

Letter to the editor FSA

To the editor,

As noted in a Jan. 21 Herald article (“ UND stops work on proposed gender inclusion policy ”), UND President Armacost aborted the proposed policy, which had been developed for several months by a task force of faculty and staff. This decision calls into question the university’s (lack of) commitment to protect and welcome students, faculty, and staff of all genders.

While members of the Grand Forks community have tried repeatedly to invalidate the Gender Inclusion Policy on the basis of freedom of speech, it has already been well documented federally that hostile and discriminatory speech is not protected under the first amendment. These arguments are quite illuminating, as the policy will not prevent someone from using speech how they wish unless they are planning to speak in a way that is discriminatory. That type of speech would also be a direct contradiction to the reiterations made by commentators that “all members of the campus community need to feel welcome.”

Time and again, we have seen this proposed hypocrisy: the campus is not welcoming to all when it refuses to enact policies that will protect some of the most vulnerable members of the campus community.

Contrary to what has been written, there are few uncertainties about how institutional policies like this will have adverse consequences for transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse (TNG) people. Research published this year in the Journal of Counseling Psychology demonstrates that TNG people experience increased anxiety and depression in relation to anti-LGBTQ policy proposals. For a population that already has greater mental health concerns and suicide rates, stopping action on a policy that would have afforded even minimal protections could prove detrimental.

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Faculty, staff and students of UND must voice their disappointment with President Armacost’s decision and hold the university accountable. This necessitates that the university move forward by following recommendations made by the dedicated task force for this issue and issue a detailed explanation to all members of the campus LGBT+ community regarding additional actions that will be taken institutionally to protect, support, and affirm students, faculty and staff of all genders.

Keri Frantell,
Grand Forks

Related Topics: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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