The Queer Straight Alliance
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Queer Straight Alliance's Spring 2016 Demands for Institutional Change
Dear President Waded Cruzado;
Montana State University’s Queer Straight Alliance is a registered student organization led by MSU students to support and empower queer students and community members in Bozeman. Our group is made up of members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer Intersex Asexual (LGBTQIA) community and allied students and community members.
Today we write to endorse and give our genuine thanks to the Bullock administration for renewing its commitment to LGBTQIA Montanans by releasing Executive Order No. 04-2016. Many of our members will live in Montana for years to come and we appreciate the state’s legal commitment to ensuring we are safe from discrimination when working as state employees.
In 2013, the Montana University System augmented the system’s non-discrimination policy to include gender identity and sexual orientation. Until today, the MUS’s nondiscrimination policy was the highest policy in the state to include gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes. Further, that landmark policy was championed by students across the MUS and catalyzed by students at MSU.
However, policy change is not enough. Though nondiscrimination policies enumerate our collective value of diversity and present important legal recourse when discrimination occurs, they do little to enforce inclusion or ensure that it does not happen in the first place. On the MSU campus, the LGBTQIA community has experienced little more than avowal of advocacy from our administration. Notably, our administration currently provides zero direct support or services to LGBTQIA students.
As recently as Spring 2015, the MSU Diversity Awareness Office conducted a randomized survey and found that a majority (53%) of LGBQ students felt they had to conceal an aspect of their identity to avoid harassment or discrimination on campus. The responding gender nonconforming students reported fearing for their physical safety twice as much as cisgender males on campus. Most concerning is that many (32.5%) students reported that these incidents were taking place in their classrooms. To protect themselves, LGBTQIA students “adopt a policy of trying to blend in” and have resigned themselves to the fact that verbal harassment and homophobic slurs are simply part of the culture on campus.
As MSU students, staff, faculty and LGBTQIA Montanans, we respectfully request that the MSU Administration take responsibility and serve as a leader for the MUS and the State of Montana by dedicating institutional resources to building safer and more inclusive spaces. To move towards that, we have the following demands;
The creation and funding of an LGBTQIA specific staff position in the MSU Diversity Awareness Office to grow and expand the existing LGBTQIA support programming.
A clear plan of action to establish a gender neutral bathroom in each campus building, a gender neutral locker room in our gym facilities, and gender neutral housing space before 2020 as well as the addition of gender neutral bathrooms in all new and remodeled buildings.
Widely distributed best practices and inclusive language for all on campus staff including resident advisors and faculty members.
Development of processes that allow students to officially use their preferred name and preferred gender on all on-campus forms including those required by the Registrar’s Office and the Cat Card office.
Establish for the Fall 2016 academic year an infrastructure to pair LGBTQIA residents in our student housing with LGBTQIA accepting students.
We appreciate your response in directing us to the person accountable for diversity efforts in your administration and working together to make our campus a safe and inclusive space for all students to learn.
MSU Queer Straight Alliance