Clinic Releases Report on Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Policies at Columbia University

New York, May 8, 2015—Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic released a report today that compares Columbia University’s policies on transgender and gender non-conforming students to best practices at peer institutions and makes recommendations for how to improve the policies in the future.

The report entitled “Moving Forward: A Survey of Policies Affecting Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Students at Columbia University, Best Practices at Peer Institutions, and Recommendations for the Future,” was initiated by the clinic during the 2013-2014 academic year. Third-year students Helen M. Ethridge ’15 and Ethan M. Weinberg ’15 completed the report this month.
“The clinic hopes that this report will be part of a larger, ongoing dialogue as Columbia and other universities work to provide more supporting living and learning environments for their diverse student bodies,” Weinberg said.
The report shows that many of Columbia’s policies align with best practices at peer institutions—Harvard University, Yale University, New York University, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Chicago, the University of Vermont, and Reed College—and it also reveals areas in which Columbia can continue to improve in order to better serve the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming students.
The report’s recommendations include:
  • the creation of a university-wide center for LGBTQ students to facilitate access to information about resources and assistance;
  • that all Columbia-affiliated schools formally adopt an anti-discrimination policy that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and expression;
  • that all schools encourage community members to participate in Columbia’s Safe Zone program, an LGBTQ training tool for staff, faculty, and administrators that provides a way for participants to display their support for transgender and gender non-conforming students;
  • the expansion of gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus, including with the addition of gender-inclusive locker rooms at Dodge Fitness Center;
  • and the implementation of a preferred name option in the university registrar database without requiring proof of a legal name change.
Clinic members gathered information through telephone and in-person interviews with administrators, staff, and students, as well as online research of existing resources at Columbia and its peer institutions. The clinic is currently working with the University Registrar and the Office of Multicultural Affairs to implement some of its recommendations. Weinberg and Ethridge also have coordinated with members of the 2014-2015 clinic to ensure that these efforts continue next year.
Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic allows students to work on cutting-edge gender and sexuality issues in law and public policy.