This Coming Out Day we thought it would be the perfect time to celebrate different identities, have pride and shine light on queer issues that deserves attention. In this column we will discuss the topic of Gender Inclusivity, what UCR does well and where UCR should still improve with regards to Gender Inclusivity. We as the LGBT+/Queer society have put out a survey with two questions and in this column we will be discussing some of the most frequent answers we received from students.
What does UCR do well with regards to creating an inclusive space for different gender expressions?
We are a small community which makes it easier for people to express themselves and generally be accepted. One of UCR’s strengths is its active and involved student body. The majority of the people who filled in PRISM’s survey mentioned that this accepting student body and societies such as PRISM, Femmetalk and Oak Tree make them feel accepted and welcome at UCR.
In what regards could UCR improve to make a more inclusive space in regards to gender expression?
The number one issue that students indicate is the use of pronouns, in particular by professors. Although most people recognize that professors do not misgender people on purpose and a lot of professors really try to be respectful of pronouns, misgendering still happens too often. A possible solution to this could be a diversity training for professors where they get taught how to use matters regarding gender, like pronouns, respectfully.
Students also indicated things such as stating preferred name and pronouns more visible on Moodle or normalizing asking for pronouns at the beginning of the semester, by including it in an introduction round together with their name, semester, etc. If everyone is stating their pronouns it not only becomes more normalized but makes genderqueer students stand out less. These are small changes that could easily be implemented, but have a big impact on people’s wellbeing.
Little things such as raising a pride flag make people feel seen, but it is not enough. Many students would like to see systemic change and more visible support from the side of UCR. Another topic that the majority of the students who filled out the survey mentioned is gender neutral bathrooms that are accessible to students and faculty. A gender neutral bathroom would increase the wellbeing of all students and faculty who do not identify themselves as either a man or woman and do not feel comfortable using a binary bathroom system.
We want to create an inclusive space for everyone in UCR, but what that space looks like might differ from person to person. In this column we have summarized the most frequent answers to our survey in the hopes of starting a conversation about these topics among students and faculty. We hope you participate in this discussion so we can make UCR the best it can be for everyone.