University Senate resolutions advocate transgender rights

Resolutions expanding the inclusion of transgender people into Bradley’s non-discrimination, sexual harassment and health care policies were both passed unanimously during the University Senate meeting May 6.

Although the two resolutions were passed by the University Senate, both still have to be presented to the Board of Trustees by President Joanne Glasser to be enacted.

The resolutions were initially proposed at the April 16 meeting. The first resolution will change the phrasing in the school’s anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies to include protection of all gender identities and expression, as opposed to just gender.

“I think the most important thing we did by passing these resolutions was to affirm that Bradley is an inclusive institution that welcomes all types of people,” biology professor Naomi Stover said. “Everyone I know here is proud of our diversity, so much so that no one even realized the non-discrimination policy lacked specific language protecting transgender individuals. Since we are becoming more visible now, it was only natural to add this language, and it passed the Senate by a unanimous vote. Now, no transgender student, faculty or staff member ever needs to wonder if the people on campus support their identity and their decisions.”

The second resolution was a request for university administration to undertake negotiations to improve medical coverage offerings in the school’s health care plan to provide complete coverage for transgender people. Both of Bradley’s current health care policies specifically exclude any transgender specific health care, according to history professor John Williams.

According to Stover, the Illinois Department of Insurance issued a memo last summer that stated all insurance plans offered in the state must eliminate language excluding certain types of coverage for transgender people.

“The insurance [policy] was really shocking to me,” Williams said. “They put it right up there alongside ‘we don’t cover anti-smoking programs,’ and it’s demeaning. These are people who have a real medical condition that’s recognized by the AMA (American Medical Association) as a valid diagnosable condition, and it’s recognized by the APA (American Psychological Association) as well.”

Williams and Stover proposed the resolutions. The rationale behind these revisions, according to the resolution document, is to ensure equal legal protection for transgender people.

Several students joined Stover in speaking to the assembly Wednesday about transgender issues and why these revised policies are important.
“We were really proud of the two students who came and spoke up,” Williams said. “That was really inspiring.”

According to Williams, 170 faculty, staff and administrators responded with their support of these resolutions within a span of around five days after he sent them out in March.

These resolutions ask for more inclusiveness within Bradley University policies, but there are still some other policies that students and faculty say could be improved upon.

“What I personally would like to see happen some time in the future is some alterations in housing here at Bradley involving the possibilities of gender neutral restrooms, more single occupancy restrooms and an improved roommate selection process that would keep transgender and gender non-conforming students at Bradley in mind,” Derek Baunach, freshman theatre arts major and one of the students who spoke at the assembly, said.

Another possible step, according to Williams, is the revision of student insurance policies. Williams also said he would like to see additional student organizations get involved. Stover said the option to provide alternate names and gender markers on student ID’s and registration are further steps that can be taken to become more inclusive of the LGBTQ community.

The process of creating the resolutions and presenting them took about two months, according to Williams.

“I’m astonished at how fast [the resolutions] all happened and how much the campus community got involved in this issue,” Stover said. “I’ve never been more proud to be a Bradley Brave.”


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