BLOOMSBURG, Pa–Bloomsburg University will be offering gender-neutral housing as an option for incoming and current students, beginning in fall 2015 semester.
The new housing option will only be available in Northumberland Hall. The only gender-neutral restroom is located on the 2nd floor of the hall. With this new housing option, it will allow transgender students to request a roommate of their choice regardless of gender identification.
A growing number of colleges and universities throughout the country are offering gender-neutral housing as an option now. According to campuspride.org, there are 197 colleges/universities that offer gender-neutral housing. Many colleges are starting to adopt this policy because it is a housing style designed to let transgender students feel more comfortable with their living situations.
As BU students got word that there would be a new housing option available on campus, there were many different reactions. Students from BU’s LGBTQA Resource Center, located in the Student Service Center on campus, see it as a positive change.
“I am of course so happy that Bloomsburg University has taken a step in the right direction and included gender-neutral housing on our campus,” said Aaron Brown who was the treasurer of the LGBTQA organization for the 2014-2015 year.
Even though this new housing option will be considered a benefit for the LGBTQA students to feel safe and comfortable with their living conditions, not everyone is quick to accept to this policy.
“I am aware that this type of living style will show support to students that identify as a member of the LGBTQA alliance, but I think the university should have talked to the student body before making that decision,” said junior Taylor Johnson.
University of North Carolina (UNC) made national headlines back in 2012, because they banned gender-neutral housing across the UNC school system.
Many students and supporters of the LGBTQA community said this ban would hurt the community—especially transgender students because it shows the school being unsupportive about LGBTQA safety. UNC Board of Governors, Chairman Peter Hans said he thinks there are other ways to ensure student safety in on-campus housing than gender-neutral accommodations, according to an article from dailytarheel.com
As incoming and current students of BU filled out the room selection process for the 2015-2016 academic year, they were asked questions about this new student housing option. Students were able to select a gender-neutral room as a preference and for students who did not actively select that option were consulted before being placed in that wing.
“Many of my personal friends selected this housing option and are very happy that it finally exists. I highly commend Bloomsburg University for providing gender-neutral housing for students who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming,” said Stephanie Dressler who was the vice president of the LGBTQA organization for the 2014-2015 year.
There are about 40 rooms that are available to transgender students. There are two wings and it is 20 rooms on each wing. It’s not known how many students actually chose that housing option, but it is a step in the right direction that BU has this option.