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Loftin adds gender identity, expression to A&M nondiscrimination memo

GLBT students call act ‘positive step forward’

Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07

For the first time in the University's history, A&M President R. Bowen Loftin added sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the yearly non-discriminatory employment memo. While the memo is issued every year, any reference to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, GLBT, employees did not appear before the Jan. 20 letter.

Andrew Jancaric, vice president of the GLBT Aggies and student senator, sponsored legislation in 2011 calling on the Texas A&M Board of Regents to adopt a non-discrimination policy that included the GLBT community at the System level. He said he is glad the University acted, and hopes the System will follow suit.

"I think President Loftin has shown a great deal of leadership in making this executive order," Jancaric said. "It's the first time gender identity and expression has been included in that yearly statement, a very positive step forward for Texas A&M University."

Jancaric said the memo will help A&M in its Vision 2020 mission, which aims to make A&M a leader among peer institutions.

"Eleven out of 20 of our 2020 peer institutes have gender identity included in their equal opportunity diversity statement," Jancaric said. "It's a very inclusive step forward in terms of making A&M a more welcoming institution."

There has been a positive response to the memo from communities within and without A&M, Jancaric said.

"Texas A&M is committed to its principles of diversity and inclusion," Jancaric said. "The statement is long overdue and the fact that it's warmly accepted just shows how much the University cares."

Camden Breeding, president of the GLBT Aggies, said he is glad the memo was issued because it protects University employees.

"Prior to this statement, because Texas is an at-will state, employees could, hypothetically be fired for being GLBT," Breeding said. "This new statement now protects employees at the TAMU-College Station campus. This is an important step that requires follow through by the Texas A&M regents on the System level."

Breeding said the memo is in the best interest of the University and is a strong component of a GLBT-friendly University, but said there is still a long way to go, yet.

"This statement is an important step toward achieving Vision 2020 and being a nationally competitive University," Breeding said. "Of course, the reality is that change is slow and it will take continued, deliberate effort to enact a shift in attitudes at A&M that welcomes GLBT people. So while this is an important step, we need people to continue to get involved and help advocate for the GLBT community in this critical moment."

Christine Stanley, vice president and associate provost for diversity, said adding to the memo was a good decision for

multiple reasons.

"It is essential that we convey messages that reflect our commitment to an inclusive, welcoming University environment," Stanley said. "The inclusion of  ‘gender identity' and ‘gender expression' in the President's Equal Employment Opportunity-Affirmative Action Program statement signals our understanding of our evolving and increasingly diverse campus community."

Stanley added that the addition is consistent with Vision 2020.

"The language is more current, culturally sensitive and is in-line with a number of our Vision 2020 Peers that include ‘gender identity' and ‘gender expression' in their Equal Opportunity-Affirmative Action Program statements," Stanley said.

Kate Broussard, a sophomore English major, said the addition to the memo indicates there was a problem before.

"If he added it, there was obviously a need to clarify," Broussard said.



Employment memo text

"...It is our policy to not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law. Furthermore, we will maintain a work environment free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."

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