Friday, January 10, 2014

UH-Downtown SGA Unanimously Passes Gender Neutral Restrooms Resolution

Had the opportunity today to observe a little piece of history as UH-Downtown because the second school in the state of Texas and the first college in the Houston metro area to provide gender neutral restrooms on its campus.

Their first general assembly meeting of the 2014 spring semester was no ordinary one.  It had local media, news cameras and a certain blogger present as we watched student leaders debate the merits of Senate Resolution SR2014January10.

It was a proposal to convert six restrooms on the 14,400 student campus as family/gender neutral ones out of the 60 scattered throughout the three buildings that make up the UHD campus.    

It was authored by UHD VP Kristopher Sharp and UHD Senator John Locke (who was also a sponsor).   It had the sponsorship of UHD Senators LaTrina Carter, Michellee Gutierrez, Channalis Chea, Mohammed Mohsin, Kumail Mir, Michelle Gutierrez and Carlos Rodriguez.

It had the support of UHD SGA President Isaac Valdez, student body such as LaKeia Spady and Marie Angel Hernandez, faculty, staff, the administration and the community at large.

Many of the student leaders and student body members who approached the podium spoke in favor of the proposal. 

The authoring of Senate Resolution SR2014January10 was driven by an incident in which a trans student was harassed in a restroom.  In the wake of that incident troubling reports began to emerge that other trans and gender variant UHD students were so uncomfortable using on campus gendered bathrooms they either waited to go home to do so, waited until the restroom in question cleared out so they wouldn't be disturbed, used one at a nearby  area restaurant or didn't drink or eat anything while on campus. 

But it was the moving words of trans student Marie Angel Hernandez after she stepped to the podium that brought the room to its feet with a standing ovation for her when she was done.  

The resolution to designate two bathrooms (one male, one female) in each of UHD's three buildings as gender neutral restrooms open to anyone passed unanimously on a 7-0 vote. 

Kristopher.Sharp“This is an important step in UHD’s mission to include diversity and inclusion at the cornerstone of everything that we do,” said VP Kristopher Sharp. “With a unanimous passage by our Senate, this truly shows how important this issue is to the UHD community.”

The unanimously passed SGA proposal now goes to the UHD administration, which is expected to approve it.

Congratulations to the student leaders on the UHD campus for showing the community how solving problems is done.  Hopefully other Houston area colleges and our esteemed Houston City Council will follow your sterling example.   

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