Gender inclusion efforts continue across campus

LGBTQ flag hanging from a porch.

LGBTQ flag hanging from a porch.

Kent State received recognition for being one of the most LGBTQ-Friendly campuses in the nation according to Campus Pride amid efforts to be more gender inclusive, offering resources like diversity training and the Preferred Name Policy. 

AJ Leu, college of information and communication diversity director, is a faculty advocate leading gender inclusion training throughout different colleges on campus. Education on correct pronoun usage is one part of this training. 

“Through going to different colleges on our campus and sharing information on what pronouns are, what we mean when we say pronouns and available pronoun options with other faculty members, we get the chance to emphasize points on how serious the topic of gender inclusion really is,” Leu said. 

For some, this severity can be a matter of life and death.

“In trans people, suicidal ideation can be heightened from gender dysphoria, and mispronoun use increases suicide risks,” Leu said. “We must create awareness surrounding this and let people know that it’s more than just a nice thing to do, it can be imperative in saving someone’s life.”

Professor of LGBTQ studies Lauren Vachon shows how serious gender inclusion is through their work, having made several contributions such as creating an “inclusive syllabus” and encouraging pronoun usage in faculty email sign-offs.

“When an opportunity came up among faculty to share materials on building an inclusive classroom, I was inspired by other universities and practices they had put into place,” Vachon said. “The inclusive syllabus designates space for a pronoun usage policy which assures students that they’re safe in my classroom, and that I’ll use pronouns they ask me to use.”

As of now, there’s no Preferred Pronoun Policy at Kent State which would give students an opportunity to register pronouns online, the Preferred Name Policy was created five years ago.

This policy allows for students to choose what name appears on class rosters, email lists and most university systems. 

When it came to the implementation of a pronoun-specific policy, Vachon made no promises. 

“Implementing the Preferred Name Policy was difficult as it was because so many computer systems were altered to allow for preferred names. On top of that, there were many hard faculty decisions to make as well,” Vachon said. “Even though I believe the work would be important, I don’t foresee it in the near future.”

Serena Shortridge covers diversity. Contact her at [email protected].