LGBT Community Pushes For Policy For Alternate Names

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In conjunction with Pride Week, the Ohio University LGBT Center organized an event Wednesday to discuss the listing of alternate names in the university database with OU officials. 

Dine n' Discuss brought together over 30 students and faculty members who expressed their opinion on the "Preferred Name Policy." The policy, initiated by Taylor Hufford, Ohio University Student Senate Commissioner of LGBTQA Affairs, was drafted to allow students to legally list an alternate name on official university records including class lists, advisee lists and avademic progress reports. Members of the LGBT community expressed interest in pushing for this policy as those who are 'transitioning,' or permanently changing their gender presentation, will be able to list a name they identify with.

Representatives from the registrar's office and university college listened to feedback from students about how such a policy could be implemented. 

For freshman Nora Mahaffey, such a policy would make life on campus easier for LGBT students, especially in the residence halls. 

"(It's) like how they were saying, your name is your identification and if its not going to match up with who you feel you are…it's really uncomfortable," Mahaffey said. 

The option to officially list a preferred name in the university database and to have the option to personally input it through systems like the online Ohio Student Center was also raised. For some, having only their legal name listed on university documents does not reflect their true identity. 

"It's one of those passive forms of discrimination where there's nothing malicious in it…but if we're not actively looking to change that, that does send a message to those students that 'You're not important,'" said Megan Villegas, a graduate assistant at the LGBT Center. "We're not recognizing you as the full, whole, complete person that you actually are."

The notion of naming also extends to the classroom as LGBT supporters say misuse of appropriate names and pronouns by professors could cause unintentional harm. 

"It's a little thing to some people but its such a big identification to other people so its really important," Hufford said. "A lot of professors will accidentally out a person in class and not even realize it."

The policy is still in its early stages of development. The university registrar is currently reviewing it but has not announced any changes. 

Hufford hopes to see this policy implemented by the beginning of next year but vows to keep pushing for it until she graduates in 2016.