Rainbow Alliance to fight bathroom policy

By Gwenn Barney

A change to University policy about gendered facilities left one student in tears Thursday… A change to University policy about gendered facilities left one student in tears Thursday night.

Junior Alice Haas started to cry at last night’s Rainbow Alliance meeting when she spoke about how the policy change will affect her. The LGBTQ student group met to discuss Tuesday’s clarification of University policy, which now requires transgender students to adhere to the sex listed on their birth certificates when using a bathroom.

“If I were to go into a men’s room, how many people think it would be safe for me?” Haas asked the 20 attendees at the meeting. “No one. I should be able to wake up and go to class and not have to worry about what if this time I go to the bathroom and someone attacks me?”

“I’m begging this organization to stand together with me, because I can’t do this alone,” she said.

The changed policy has sparked outrage among the student group, inspiring some to fight the change. Tricia Dougherty, the president of Rainbow Alliance, said at the meeting that its first action will be a letter-writing campaign next Wednesday. Dougherty said that they plan to use the letter writing campaign to show University officials that students are “outraged” and oppose the policy.

Those interested in participating  can meet at the ninth floor of the William Pitt Union.

Dougherty said the student group also made plans to meet with Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kathy Humphrey next Friday to discuss safety issues surrounding the policy change.

Members of the administration have been reluctant to comment on the change. Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, who did not attend Thursday’s meeting, said he “could not comment on [the policy] at this time.”

Dougherty said she organized the meeting to make sure that the transgender community was aware of what this meant for them.

“I don’t want students to assume that the policy that was in effect Monday is still in effect. I don’t want them to think they are protected when they’re not,” Dougherty said. Previously, Pitt determined which bathroom transgender students could use on a case-by-case basis.

“The University wants it to be as simple as there are boys and there are girls. They just refuse to hear me,” Haas said.