Temple could provide an option for gender-inclusive housing within the next three years, if a proposal to the Board of Trustees from Temple Student Government is approved.
“Gender-inclusive housing allows for students to live with other students of different genders than they are,” said Titus Knox, TSG’s director of student affairs and former president of Queer Student Union. “It benefits LGBT students because it allows trans or nonbinary students specifically to live with people who they would feel the most comfortable with.”
TSG plans to present this option to the Board in Spring 2017. If approved, Temple would join 207 other colleges and universities across the country that have already instituted gender-neutral and transgender-inclusive housing.
The housing would not be confined to a specific building; instead Morgan Hall North, Morgan Hall South, Temple Towers and 1940 Residence Hall would incorporate gender-inclusive housing into their existing suite-style rooms, Knox said. All students would be allowed to apply for the housing option.
“There might be four gender-inclusive housing rooms in one building or there might be 20, depending on what the need is,” Knox said.
Quinn Heath, vice president of Queer Student Union, said this proposal would be an “important first step to allow people to be more comfortable with their living arrangements.”
Heath added that students’ comfort with their living situations often reflects on their academic success.
“I think it is definitely a necessary element for Temple,” Heath said. “Trans students are one of our most underrepresented and under-supported groups on campus.”
QSU has wanted gender-inclusive housing on campus for several years, Heath added.
Dylan Ponticel, a freshman environmental studies and geography and urban studies double major, is a member of QSU and said the organization has made the housing option part of the group’s conversation.
“We all agreed it was a nice option and some of us would have been more comfortable,” he said.
He added that his two best friends at Temple are female and he would have “loved” to live with them, instead of his all-male suite in 1940 Residence Hall.
Morgan Pivovarnik, a resident assistant in Morgan Hall South and the financial director for QSU, said several of her residents have expressed the want for gender-neutral housing.
“As an RA, I’m here to offer resources and having the option of gender-neutral housing, that’s a resource that I would like to give to my residents,” she said.
But Knox said he expects pushback from some students.
“There’s going to be a lot of fears,” Knox said. “There’s also a lot of tension when it comes to students with different genders interacting with each other, especially when it comes to sexual assault.”
He added that parents or guardians might not want their children to live with other students of opposite genders.
“Gender-inclusive housing would push Temple closer to the reality of being the ‘diversity university,’” Knox said. “By adding simple things like gender-inclusive housing, you’re able to properly support the goal that you set out to be.”
Francesca Furey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paige Gross contributed reporting.