Gender Inclusive Housing
Q. What is gender identity?
Gender identity describes the gender with which a person identifies (i.e., whether one uses man, woman, genderqueer, or additional terminology to describe oneself). One's gender identity may or may not differ from one's legal sex which is assigned at birth based on biological characteristics.
Q. What is gender inclusive housing?
Gender inclusive housing refers to rooms where people of any sex or gender identity can room together. In order to promote diversity in our campus and foster understanding of different identities in our society, we must have residence hall options that are inclusive and accepting to all students. By implementing this policy, we are able to provide a living environment that supports not only transgender students but also students who prefer to live with a roommate of another gender for any reason.
Q. Do other colleges offer gender inclusive housing?
Yes. Currently over 200 colleges offer this option. FIT’s gender inclusive housing has been developed utilizing models from several metro area campuses, including Adelphi University and New York University, as well as campuses across the United States. A growing body of research has shown the positive effects this housing option can have on student success and retention.
Q. Are there any national or NYC guidelines regarding gender inclusive housing?
Yes, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Department of Education, and NYC Commission on Human Rights have all set forth policies and laws to protect against gender discrimination.
Q. How can I apply for this housing option?
To apply for gender inclusive housing, select the option through the online housing application.
Q. How will I be assigned gender inclusive housing and where are the rooms located?
Students confirmed for housing will be assigned a lottery number within the gender inclusive housing pool. You will then have the ability to select housing in Alumni Hall (new students) or Kaufman Hall (returning students). Waitlisted students cannot be chosen as roommates.
Q. What if I am interested in gender inclusive housing but do not have any roommates?
If you do not have a roommate in mind prior to selecting gender inclusive housing, you will be given the opportunity to select a roommate from a group of other students who also selected this housing option. If you do not select a roommate through the matching process, your roommate(s) will be assigned to you.
Q: If I apply for gender inclusive housing am I guaranteed a space?
Unfortunately, like all of our housing options, there are a limited number of spaces available. If more students apply for gender inclusive rooms than there is available space, students that are not able to select a room will be placed on a gender inclusive housing waitlist.
Q. What if there is a vacancy in my gender inclusive room?
If a student living in a gender inclusive room decides to move out of the room for any reason, the remaining roommates may identify a new roommate to fill the vacancy. Depending on the time of year and the status of the housing waitlist, Residential Life will define the time allocated
to find a new roommate. If a roommate is not identified to fill the vacancy, Residential Life reserves the right to assign any student that is interested in living in gender inclusive housing to the vacancy. Residential Life also reserves the right to consolidate or relocate the current residents to a different gender inclusive space. Residents living in gender inclusive housing must be open to a new roommate of any gender. Students not interested in gender inclusive housing will not be assigned to the space.
Q. What if I prefer to be housed based on my legal sex?
Students will be assigned spaces that correspond to their legal sex, unless they opt into gender inclusive housing or indicate gender identity on their housing application. Gender inclusive housing allows students of any gender to live together.
Q. Who is eligible to be housed based on gender identity?
All students may be housed based on their gender identity. This option is open to all students, regardless of identity. Students will provide gender identity information on their housing application and be given a housing assignment that correlates with their self-identified information, rather than their legal sex. They will be permitted to live in a gender-specific space that corresponds with their gender identity.
Q. Is this only for students who are transgender or are members of the LGBTQ community?
No. This option can benefit any individual since a student has the ability to choose or be assigned a roommate with whom they would feel most comfortable.
Q. Can students be randomly assigned to a roommate of a different gender?
No. Roommates will never be randomly assigned to students of a different gender identity who did not indicate interest in living in gender inclusive housing. However, we make assignments based on indicated gender identity and not legal sex.
Q. Does this policy encourage heterosexual couples to room together?
No. The assumption or fear that heterosexual couples would live together does not take into account LGBTQ students who may be in relationships and living together now. Gender inclusive housing would allow those students to live apart from one another. We discourage any student in a relationship with another student from rooming together.
Q. Can I live with my current partner?
A. While the Office of Residential Life will not restrict whom you live with, we discourage students who are in an intimate relationship, regardless of sexual orientation, from living together.
Q. Would women be at higher risk for sexual or physical assault if sharing a room
with a male?
This view is based on the assumption that sexual or physical violence is only perpetrated by men toward women, and does not take into account that men can assault other men; women can assault other women; or women can assault men. This proposal only allows for different sex roommates who mutually request to live together. We believe this will help decrease the chances of abuse by allowing students to specify a roommate that they know and can feel safe with. There is no evidence to support that violence or disputes is higher in rooms that are mixed-gender than rooms that are same sex. It is understood that violence against women is a concern on college campuses; however, we must understand that this violence can occur in any room on campus.
Q. What if my parents don’t want me to live in a gender inclusive housing room?
It is the student’s choice to communicate with parents or family members about the decision to live in a gender inclusive housing option. We encourage students to talk with parents or family members about their housing choice so that they can be in support of the student’s decision. Residential Life will never share information about housing status or roommate assignments with anyone other than the student.
An article on The Emergence of Gender-Neutral Housing on American University Campuses (2012) published in the Journal of Adolescent Research outlined the increasing prevalence of gender inclusive housing on college campuses and a rise in campuses developing such practices. Campus Pride, the leading national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students, maintains information regarding the availability of gender inclusive housing on college campuses across the United States. Their current list, which was last updated in 2015, names 205 institutions that offer gender inclusive housing in some form. This includes 24 institutions in the state of New York, including many SUNY campuses.
Research published in the Journal of LGBT Youth titled Gender-Inclusive Housing Preferences: A Survey of College-Aged Transgender Students (2013) stated that, “Transgender and gender-nonconforming students do take into account the availability of GIH [gender inclusive housing] in deciding on which college or university to attend, including whether the GIH option is available to incoming students.” To this end, offering gender inclusive housing carries potential for student retention.
Following an implementation at Ohio University, residence life professionals found that, “Several students cited the creation of the GNH community as the reason that they remained at Ohio University. In the focus groups, students remarked that the community felt more respectful and engaged than previous communities in which they had lived.” These findings were shared in Designing and Implementing a Successful Gender-Neutral Housing Community, in the Journal of College & Character (2014).
National & NYC Guidelines
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) issued a Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students (.pdf) on May 13, 2016, outlining the obligations of educational institutions under Title IX regarding transgender students. In the area of student housing, the Dear Colleague Letter states, “Title IX allows a school to provide separate housing on the basis of sex. But a school must allow transgender students to access housing consistent with their gender identity and may not require transgender students to stay in single-occupancy accommodations or to disclose personal information when not required of other students.” FIT has amended our practices to reflect these obligations under Title IX and the instructions of the DOJ and DOE.
Furthermore, the NYC Commission on Human Rights outlined their expectations in the Legal Enforcement Guidance on the Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Expression: Local Law No. 3 (2002); N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-102(23), in December 2015 stating, “It is unlawful to refuse to sell, rent, or lease housing to someone because of their actual or perceived gender, including actual or perceived status as a transgender person. It is unlawful to withhold from any person full and equal enjoyment of a housing accommodation because of their gender.” FIT’s gender inclusive option ensures we are in compliance with the New York City-specific guidelines for housing.