University Courtyard to implement gender neutral housing

Fresno State University Courtyard will be implementing a new option for gender-neutral housing on campus next semester, a major move for the campus largely same-sex living arrangements.

“This is something that University Courtyard has discussed for several years,” said housing director Erin Boele.  Students, campus organizations, and University Courtyard housing will be working together to provide a new opportunity on campus, Boele said, based on inclusion. The new housing option will be open to any students who may be interested.

Other campuses that have already implemented a gender-neutral housing option include CSU Long Beach, San Diego State University, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, and CSU East Bay.

Bobbie Styles, a former resident adviser at San Diego State University, said that SDSU was a pioneer in implementing gender-neutral housing in the California State University System.

“The practices that San Diego State have implemented have had a largely positive impact on the students to which they represent,” Styles said.

In an open letter to the university, President Joseph Castro writes that Fresno State is “dedicated to reducing any barriers to success that come from race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture, religion, sex, national origin, color, linguistic diversity, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, geographical region, personality, learning styles, life experiences and other human characteristics.”

As part of an effort to remain an inclusive campus that promotes diversity, Boele said the specifics of the implementation are still being planned.

“We are looking at best practices and also the needs of our community,” Boele said. “Students, faculty and staff are currently helping to provide feedback.”

Dani Knight, a sophomore ag education major, said that it would be a good idea to implement coed housing on campus, saying that many students get along better with the opposite sex. She says that although University Courtyard has made efforts to change and adapt to its diverse student population, it might not be enough for every student.

“I believe that University Courtyard is stuck in its old ways,” Knight said. “They automatically assign you a room based on your gender. Our campus is all about promoting gender equality and the dorms keep it equal by having two separate sides, but gender really shouldn’t be an issue on campus anymore. Having an option would really help students who get along better with the opposite sex, or choose not to conform to a specific gender.”

As part of California law since 2004, the Gender Nondiscrimination Act prohibits discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people in housing and employment in public accommodations.

Discrimination against transgender and gender-nonconforming people is prohibited in virtually every area of life in California, including housing, employment, education, insurance, and public accommodations, according to the transgender law center.

A small suite will be designated this year, and a larger community is intended to be built for the 2016-17 Academic year for students who choose the gender-nonconformity option.