Joash Mencias // News Editor
Trustee Kim Savage brought the discussion to the table and inquired about the college’s response after a student commented on the lack of language inclusive to transgender individuals in the school’s policies.
In response to Savage, Chairman Erin Birt and others affirmed advice from legal counsel stating the policies already provided language to cover gender identity and expression.
“If counsel, administration, Illinois statute all shows that it’s sufficiently identified and covered, I’m of the opinion that it’s ok,” Birt stated.
However Birt reiterated she was not in opposition to the idea of inclusion:
“I think we all can agree that it’s definitely something we all share, the sentiment that was expressed last month…I don’t want this to be construed at all that I’m objecting to the notion or the sentiment of it, I just think we need to analyze it more.”
Discussion on the topic began after Bradley Setter, president of COD’s Pride Alliance, brought up the issue during the September meeting. Setter advocated to include gender identity and expression in the college’s equal employment and nondiscrimination policies.
After the discussion at last Thursday’s meeting, Setter expressed disappointment.
“Honestly, it hurt. By saying that (COD policy) is sufficient, it’s not recognizing differences in people. It went against our values of being a diversified school.”
Setter is calling on the college to revise two of its policies. The first, No. 15-5, deals with equal employment opportunities and affirmative action. The second, No. 15-10, prohibits discrimination or harassment for students, employees, and visitors.
Both policies, adopted in 2009, protect against discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. Language containing the words “gender identity” or “gender expression” is not currently present.
“I just think further education is needed to know the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity,” Setter explained.
Setter said he was in contact with Trustee Savage and will continue advocating for the policy changes.
Trustee Savage is expected to bring the issue forward through more discussion in the future.
At the October meeting, she urged the Board of Trustees to carry on with more dialogue on the issue.
“I would like to request that we don’t just say it’s sufficient but that we do have more analysis…I’m just asking not to close the door on it.”