Linfield strives to make gender-neutral options

Housing registration can cause many conflicts in preparing for the next year of your college career. However, being denied group living options can mess up your plans in a second. For one transgender student at George Fox University living with friends was not an option. With the topic hot on hand in college across the United States, Linfield is also reevaluating its policies on gender-neutral options on campus.

According to Jeff Mackay, associate dean of student and director of resident life, Linfield has been working to increase gender-neutral options around campus.

On a brochure created by Residence Life, Linfield identifies 13 gender-neutral restrooms on campus, including academic buildings, other facilities and dormitories.

With this in mind, Linfield has also worked to configure Memorial hall, a previously female-only dorm, to be co-ed for the next school year.

“Instead of having one, big communal restroom, Memorial has four individual restrooms, which we have already designated as gender-neutral,” Mackay said. “So if say we have a first year transgender student next year, it would be an option for them, because [it’s] co-ed and has gender-neutral restrooms.”

Along with Memorial other halls that offer gender-neutral restrooms on campus are: Elkinton, Jane Failing, Mahaffey, Miller Fine Art Complex, Murdock, Terrell, T.J. Day, Withnell Commons, Cozine and Pioneer.

Spear-heading the initiative for gender-neutral restrooms is junior Ariana Lipkind, co-president of FUSION. Due to her passion for the topic, Lipkind began by submitting a proposal for gender-neutral restrooms after doing some research and information gathering from other schools in Oregon.

“I’ve always been really involved in making campus a better, safer place for students,” Lipkind said. “I started working with Jason Rodriguez last spring as a volunteer in the multicultural programs office working on setting up safe-space trainings and gender-neutral restrooms as an option for gender non-conforming students, or students questioning their gender, or students who just aren’t comfortable using gendered restrooms.”

Lipkind also stated that she is working to have something written in to the housing policy for transgender students.

“I would eventually like to see Memorial become a gender-neutral dorm, where anyone can live with anyone,” Lipkind said.

Sophomores Shawna Jacobson-Sims and Shane Whitson are also drafting a proposal for more gender-neutral housing options for the future, according to Lipkind.

At George Fox, sophomore Jaycen, whose last name was not released, is filing a complaint against the college for Title IX discrimination. Jaycen started making the medical transition from female to male a year ago, and made the transition socially in high school. Jaycen applied to live with his male friends, but was denied.

In a statement released by the college, it stated, “George Fox strives to be a Christ-centered community and our residential facilities are single sex because of our theological commitments. The student’s request to switch from female-only on-campus housing to male-only on-campus housing is one that many institutions would struggle with.”

Dean of Community Life, Mark Pothoff, stated in a letter that the school will allow Jaycen to live in a single room or live off campus with male students under certain conditions. The conditions include changing his name and gender with specific documentation on his driver license and Social Security Card.

“To Jayce, telling him he can live off campus, but not on campus, really feels like a separate-but-equal kind of situation,” said Portland lawyer Paul Southwick in an article in the Portland Tribune.

Lipkind states that Linfield’s FUSION club does not plan to reach out to George Fox students directly. However, they are hoping that with the help of inter- gay straight alliance for the Willamette Valley that they help give George Fox’s underground GSA group, Common Grounds, more support.

“In the past, we have tried to get in contact with members of [Common Ground], but it’s been hard because they are so underground,” Lipkind said. “But I know a lot of people around campus have been discussing [the George Fox incident].”

Kaylyn Peterson

Managing editor

Kaylyn           Peterson      can                 be                   reached        at
[email protected]