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USF should protect gender identity

Published: Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 15:09

Gender identity is an important part of anyone's personality. Yet, gender identity and expression has yet to be included within USF's anti-discrimination policies..

If USF includes race, sexual orientation, religion and even genetic information within its nondiscrimination policy, why shouldn't one's thoughts and feelings about gender be protected equally?

Although Tampa adopted an anti-discrimination rule against "gender identity and expression" in housing, employment and public accommodations in 2009, General Counsel Gerard Solis told The Oracle there is no specific state law and the University is not beholden to the City of Tampa's ruling.

However, five of Florida's 11 public universities — University of Florida, Florida State University, University of North Florida, University of Central Florida and University of West Florida — specifically note gender identity within their anti-discrimination policies. Orlando, Gainesville and Miami Beach are among the other Florida municipalities that have gender identity discrimination protection, according to USF may not technically have to adopt this gender identity protection, but it should not be an island of closed-minded policies, either.

This stance is even more puzzling considering that, in July, USF became the first state university to allow students to identity themselves as "transitioning" when applying for on-campus housing. While transgender and transitioning students have housing privileges on campus, they do not have general discrimination protection.

USF student Rebecca Cardwell had noted her concerns in finding a convenient, comfortable restroom on campus while transitioning from male to female. This availability of public accommodations is an issue, and transgender or transitioning students are not looking to harass other people in a perverted fashion. Most likely, they just want to use the bathroom in peace.

However, which bathroom a transgender or transitioning student uses is certainly not the only concern stemming from USF's lack of gender identity discrimination. The possibility of workplace, classroom or other on-campus discrimination is raised, and could be silenced with the addition to the anti-discrimination policies.

While there is a need to avoid trampling on anyone else's rights, there is a misconception that transgendered and transitioning people are flagrantly bothering people. People with a different gender identity have no sinister intentions inherent in their actions. Let them be treated like the human beings they are.

USF should change its policy on discrimination and join the other fine Florida public universities that protect gender identity. If a public university cannot protect the rights of free expression, how can it create a positive environment for learning? If these students pay the same tuition and take the same classes, they should have similar protection against possible discrimination.

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Mon Sep 19 2011 06:59
Ted Williams said, ���Discrimination in any form is unacceptable," he said, ���The issue, however, is something he said is "a double-edged sword." "Let's say an individual is transitioning," he said. "He or she has their right. Now, there are individuals who may be heterosexual and one of a given gender. We must understand they have their rights too. We don't want to tread on the rights of one group to facilitate or bring to fruition the rights of the others."
We say that discrimination in any form is truly unacceptable, and not just for one group of people.
I believe Ted Williams realizes that Rebecca is, in fact, being discriminated against. He should feel compelled to do what is just and right in spite of the pressure from within. It is not a double edge sword, it���s wrong. Racism over racial tolerance, eugenics over freedom of reproduction, merit over equality, competition over cooperation, power politics and militarism over pacifism, dictatorship over democracy, capitalism over Marxism, realism over idealism, nationalism over internationalism, exclusiveness over inclusiveness, common sense over theory or science, pragmatism over principle. Which is right or wrong?
A commenter who posted an angry comment here said, ���So wake up and shut up about your personal sexual practice because normal people have more pressing issues like two lying wars, troops dying, poverty in ALL communities, the increasing divide between the rich and poor who are mistakenly grouped together as lazy.��� This same commenter describes himself/herself as from a group known as ���normal people���. That could have been said for segregation: ���colored people��� use this bathroom and ���normal people��� use ���normal people��� bathroom. You should realize that it appears to me that you are discriminating in the usual hateful fashion. As I read your post I can actually feel the hate from your words. You are familiar with that hateful feeling toward you, and yet somehow it is just for you to do the same. Each of us came from the same mold: Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, In the image of God he created them; Male and female he created them. Is there anyone familiar with Eunuchs in the Bible (Matthew 19:12)?
We are proud of our good natured and gentle daughter, Rebecca, and will stand by her.
Tue Sep 6 2011 17:45
Lol'd at the title in the print edition. Rule #1: Never proofread the headline of your own editorial.

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