UNT students petition for 'gender-neutral' dorms

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by MARIE SAAVEDRA

Bio | Email | Follow: @MSaavedraTV

WFAA

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Poll:
Are you in favor of 'gender-neutral' housing at state universities?

DENTON — Texas Southern University, Southwestern University and Rice University all have "gender neutral" student housing. It aims at making dorm life more open to those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Now a group of students at the University of North Texas wants that same option.

A big part of the college experience is identity — finding it, creating it, defining it for yourself, or defining it for no one at all.

Atarah Fields is a sophomore at the University of North Texas, and a resident assistant who lives on campus. She said she has always been interested in gender identity and gender neutrality.

Fields — along with a group of women’s studies students — are now pitching the idea of taking identity out of dorms.

"The way that people would be able to apply for housing on campus wouldn't be dictated solely by their sex or gender identity, and they'd be allowed to live in an environment where they feel the safest and most comfortable," Fields said.

The idea is that students born as one gender but living as another — or people who are "gender fluid" — wouldn’t be forced to live with a gender they don’t feel comfortable or identify with... or be forced to pay more for a private room on campus.

"UNT has a history of being pretty open with students bringing forward questions and concerns," said UNT spokesman Buddy Price. He said there are 13 resident halls — some co-ed — housing 6,000 students on campus.

University Housing first heard of this proposal in the fall, and there has been discussion. An online petition is seeking signatures in support of its adoption.

”Our housing officials have met with students several times and continue to meet with them, but at this time there’s been no decisions made," Price said.

Fields said her committee plans to fine-tune their proposal and continue their push to bring gender-neutral dorms to North Texas.

“I love this campus so much, and I think this is the best Texas school to come on board with this,” she said.

E-mail msaavedra@wfaa.com

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