Earlier this week, the Montana Board of Regents unanimously approved the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the Montana University System’s non-discrimination policy. This policy change will affect all campuses within the MUS and provide protection to staff, faculty and students, according to Seamus Manley of Montana Associated Students.
In the fall of 2012, the Associated Students of Montana State University and University of Montana brought forth a joint resolution in support of amending the university system’s policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. The policy change has found broad support from faculty, staff and students across the state, Manley said, reflecting the trend of support for inclusive non-discrimination policies in Montana.
“This was an incredible opportunity for MAS to represent all 50,000 of our constituents in a very real way. By providing this protection, students can focus on being active and engaged members in their campus and community,” said Lindsay Murdock, the vice president for internal affairs of Montana Associated Students.
A system-wide task force was formed by the Office of the Commissioner of Education to study the feasibility and impact of the policy change in January of 2013. The task force recommended the amending of the policy, concluding that, “[s]uch a change would further the Montana University System’s goal of providing a safe and positive campus environment for people to work and learn.” The task force will now work to aid the campuses in working through any challenges in implementation.
Seven of the MUS’s campuses explicitly provided protection on the basis of sexual orientation, including UM-Missoula, MSU-Bozeman, MSU-Billings, MSU-Northern, Helena College UM-Western and Montana Tech. Only UM-Missoula protected on the basis of gender identity prior to passage of the policy change.
Seamus Manley, Montana Associated Students, firstname.lastname@example.org