Ohio University Administration Reaffirms Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Posted on:

< < Back to

ATHENS, Ohio — Administrators at Ohio University have reaffirmed their commitment to diversity and inclusion in response to the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice revoking previous policy on protecting the rights of students to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.

Interim President David Descutner, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit and Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pena sent out a joint letter Friday responding to the Feb 22. “Dear Colleague Letter” from the federal government.

“We have reviewed the Letter’s applicability, and while we believe that the Letter rolled back significant guidance to many schools and post-secondary institutions, it does not change our internal policies, practices, or values,” wrote the group.

The administrators pointed to 40.001: Equal Employment and Educational Opportunity in the university’s policy as their guideline.

“There shall be no discrimination against any person in employment or educational opportunities because of race, color, religion, age, ethnicity, national origin, national ancestry, sex, pregnancy, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, military service or veteran status, mental or physical disability, or genetic information,” the policy reads.

President Obama’s administration issued the guidelines last May with the reasoning that preventing transgender students from using the bathroom which coordinates with their gender identity was a Title IX violation.

Under President Trump’s administration, the guidelines were revoked Wednesday. Their argument was the policy was federal overreach and a violation of states’ rights to make a determination.

The Ohio University administrators said they would continue to follow their internal policy and offer restroom facilities catered to a variety of needs.

“We have worked to increase the number of single-user, family, and gender inclusive restrooms across campus,” the letter read. “We also support each individual’s autonomy to determine which restrooms are appropriate for their personal use.”

The letter also mentions other resources “for all who identify as LGBTQA+,” including the LGBT Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance.

Read the letter in full here.