Steady progress being made toward gender neutral inclusion

Quintin George November 9, 2017 0

Elizabethtown College has taken a multitude of steps in recent years to accommodate those students who identify themselves as gender neutral, whether they are nonbinary, transsexual, genderqueer, etc.

As the College moves toward a more welcoming atmosphere for these under-represented students, it has taken a myriad of actions such as placing gender neutral bathrooms throughout campus, permitting students to get school-related items and more (key cards, class rosters) containing the individual’s preferred names and pronouns, creating a section of housing located in Founders dedicated to these students (known as the Stonewall dorms) and allowing co-ed dorms and rooms for those more comfortable with such living spaces.

Although the College is doing a substantial amount of work to assist these once overlooked students, some students believe the College is able to go even further with its steady progress.

One of the more accommodating steps is the introduction of the Stonewall dorms. The Stonewall dorms are named after the historical LGBT Stonewall riots of 1969, in order to commemorate the struggle of the community.

“I think having Stonewall exist is a really, really important step to have the community feel safe,” sophomore Stonewall resident assistant Caitlin Olivas stated. “Everyone feels safe to be themselves.”

Photo by Erin Garrett

The Stonewall dorms are appreciated greatly by the College’s gender neutral community, but some feel that they should work on this further.

Senior Derek Burton, a former resident of the Stonewall dorm, believes that the College needs more gender neutral housing.

Another step the College has taken toward accommodating gender neutral students is its increasing introduction of gender neutral bathrooms, which can be found in Wenger, Nicarry, Steinman and the BSC.

“I think [Elizabethtown College] could add more gender neutral bathrooms, and make the ones we have better labeled,” senior and former resident of the Stonewall dorm Sarah Olson said. This viewpoint is shared by Burton and Olivas.

“I really, really think there should be more than just four,” Olivas remarked. “Not a lot of students know they exist, so it kind of makes it a little bit harder for people on this floor and part of the community to use those resources.”

“I still don’t know where a lot of them are, so it’d be really good if they were more noticeable,” Olson agreed.

When these students were asked how they felt specifically about the College’s progress and what more could be done more for its gender neutral students, they gave a mix of answers that contained the same unifying message.

“Though I do not identify as transgender, I feel like the College has really stepped up to help transgender students,” Burton stated.

However, he continued on to say that the College still needs more accommodations, such as the previously mentioned additional bathrooms and the expansion of gender neutral housing.

“I think Etown has come a long way with starting the gender neutral housing floor and making the ILUs gender neutral,” Olson remarked.

However, as stated earlier, she still feels the College needs more gender neutral bathrooms and needs to inform the students more of where they are.

Sophomore Pleasant Sprinkle-Williams, a current resident of the Stonewall dorm, believes Etown is overcomplicating its process.

“I believe the College is trying, but there are more simple ways they could do it, but haven’t done so,” she said.

“I cannot speak for every person’s experiences, so I feel like if Etown was to improve on anything, it would be to open a forum or conversation available to everybody,” Olivas said.

Generally, those interviewed stated that the College is doing a great job in assisting these students, but more needs to be done to progress even further with this assistance.

“The school itself is very, very supportive of this community and the people in it,” Olivas said. “People feel safe to express their concerns and have their well-being met.”


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