Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gender identity bill stirs debate in SGA

Student Government Association senator and vice president of MT Lambda, Brandon Thomas, recently proposed that SGA add "gender identity and expression" under Article 2, Section 2 of the SGA constitution.

As of now, the constitution has a non-discrimination policy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students on campus, but hasn't recognized the basic rights of gender identity and expression.

Perhaps the problem is that many people are unaware of what gender identity is. Gender identity is how a person identifies him/herself when referring to gender. Also, gender identity isn't always directly linked to sexual orientation.

As discussions continue, a common response to this bill may revolve around the fact that there is already something in the constitution for LGBT students and adding gender identity and expression will only make the policy more "redundant."

I don't see how it will make anything redundant because being homosexual, bisexual or transgender is not the same as gender identity. Open minds and a dictionary might help representatives know the difference.

Every student deserves to be protected and not discriminated against. If a student is hassled about being gay and it starts to affect his/her education, the student has a policy to back up his/her case.
Right now gender identity students do not have that luxury.

SGA's responsibility is to represent the students and listen to ideas and suggestions they may have. The first introduction on the Web site even says that SGA is the voice for the student body. Therefore, if the student body wants equal rights for gender identity individuals then SGA representatives should take the time to understand the difference between gender identity and homosexuality before brushing it off and calling it "redundant."

If the bill passes through SGA twice then it will become a referendum that students will be able to vote on during Homecoming this fall.

Have an opinion on this issue? Voice it here.