Duke approves gender-neutral housing for freshmen to accommodate LGBTQAI students

Duke University is opening gender-neutral housing for the freshman class of 2018, in order to accommodate the university’s LGBTQAI students.

The decision to expand gender-neutral housing on the school’s East campus comes after months of talks between university administrators, Duke Students for Gender Neutrality, and representatives of Duke Student Government, The Duke Chronicle reports.

According to Daniel Kort, president of the pro-LGBTQ student organization Blue Devils United, the housing will be “the safest places for trans and genderqueer students to avoid harassment.”

This isn’t the first time that Duke has created gender-neutral housing; in 2011, the department of Housing, Dining and Residence Life added gender-neutral housing to Duke’s central campus. Some housing on the West campus was also later made gender-neutral, as well. 

All selective living groups will also have the option of becoming gender-neutral; previously, they had been allowed to do so only if they had a total of three different bathrooms: one female, one male, and one gender-neutral.

At the moment, the number of students with roommates of the opposite gender is “very small,” according to Dean for Residential Life Joe Gonzalez. Currently, incoming students are able to identify as male, female, or transgender, and there are plans to provide more gender options. The department of Housing, Dining and Residential Life will also be working with individuals to find gender-neutral housing plans that will work for them. 

University officials are also considering expanding gender-neutral housing into Wilson residence hall on the East campus, which houses roughly 100 first-year students, specifically because of its suite-style bathrooms.

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