News (USA)

University of Alabama trains staff on transgender students’ needs

University of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The unique needs of transgender students were the focus of a recent conference at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Some advocates say similar programs are becoming common on campuses nationwide as issues facing the transgender community gain broader attention.

The two-day conference last week was focused on cultural competency and ensuring student success, said UAB Executive Director of Student Health and Wellness Jacob Baggott.

“Trans students are in our population and certainly they’ve presented for care just like any other student would and we need to be aware of how to manage that,” he said. Although the program was focused on social and medical support, some guidelines can be as simple as referring to a transgender student by their chosen name and pronoun, he said.

“It’s new for folks in some cases, it’s a new thing to navigate and it takes some time to adopt those practices but we’re committed to addressing those types of things.” Baggott said. “It’s certainly an area that’s getting broader and broader understanding.”

The school and several other Alabama universities are among nearly 1,000 colleges and universities across the country that have adopted nondiscrimination policies that include gender identity and gender expression, according to the Campus Pride Trans Policy Clearinghouse.

The UAB training conference was part of a national trend among college administrators to create policies and programs to better include transgender students, said Trans Policy Clearinghouse Coordinator Genny Beemyn.

“It’s been growing for the last few years and I think it’s speeding up both because more students are coming out as being trans and expect their institution to do better by them,” Beemyn said. Students in Kentucky, Virginia, Michigan and elsewhere have filed discrimination lawsuits against schools and colleges after not being allowed to use restrooms that align with their gender identities and for other issues.

“We’re going to see some wholesale changes in the next few years,” Beemyn said, adding that those changes could include more colleges adopting gender inclusive restrooms, housing, access to hormone therapy and more.

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