Gender Neutral Housing

Posted: Jan 20, 2011 3:31 PM

Earlier this year, Ohio University announced a new pilot program for gender-neutral housing, which has become all the rage on college campuses. The program allows people of “all genders” to live together in the dorms.

Some of my older readers might assume this is just a lame attempt by middle-aged administrators to seem cool by allowing male and female students to shack up together. You’d be wrong. These days, gender-neutral housing is mostly a bow to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) students who demand their own special dorms. OU’s student newspaper praised the “progressive step,” which is mostly meant “to accommodate those students who identify as transgender.”

The idea that college life is so tough for gay and transgendered students that they need separate housing is preposterous. Far from being uniquely oppressed, the LGBT contingent is often the most catered-to of any group on campus. Administrators go to great lengths to satisfy these students while simultaneously nurturing a victimhood complex.

The Weekly Standard’s Heather MacDonald wrote about this phenomenon two years ago in an article titled “Victimology 101 at Yale.” Two months after announcing serious budget cuts to compensate for a 25% decrease in its endowment, Yale rolled out a brand-new Office of LGBTQ Resources.

The LGBT community had accused Yale of creating an “alien, hostile environment”—despite the fact that Yale had pioneered the field of gay studies, issued the Pink Book (“an official reference guide to courses geared towards lesbian and gay concerns”), and hired a special deans’ assistant for LGBT issues. The students were in a huff about not having their own office space.

“The fact that we don't actually have a physical space says lots about Yale's stance towards LGBT life on the ground at a metaphorical level,” one student whined to the school paper. The school responded by securing this “physical space” as soon as possible.

After they demanded—and got—their own office in the midst of budget cuts, these self-absorbed students moved on to their next complaint: the lack of gender-neutral housing. Yale quickly formed a committee to implement it. They conceded that this was mainly a concession to transgender students, although, according to MacDonald, “there is no suggestion in any of the news coverage that Yale has tried to determine how many transgender students are actually enrolled at Yale.”

This is the same Yale that refused to allow five Orthodox Jews to live off-campus in 1998. Unlike the LGBT contingent, the Jewish students didn’t ask the school to set aside special dorms or overhaul housing policies just for them. They simply asked to be exempt from the housing requirement because the dorm atmosphere (which includes co-ed bathrooms) conflicted with their religious lifestyle.

Yale said no. They called the residency requirement “a central part of Yale’s education,” and sent the implicit message: “If our student housing makes you uncomfortable, don’t come here.” But when LGBT students demanded special accommodations, Yale dropped everything to form a committee that could give them exactly what they wanted.

Although I don’t support self-segregation among college students—whether they’re gay or religious—this does show where administrators’ priorities lie. If you’re a student looking for a dorm atmosphere that suits your “personal values” and makes you feel comfortable at all times, you’d best be a member of a group with liberal victimhood status.