Supporting the transgender community

Dear RIT community,

I am writing today to communicate RIT’s strong support for the transgender community. We are committed to fostering a safe and supportive environment where all individuals can study, work and thrive. This is a core value of RIT.

In recent weeks, there have been media reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services circulated a memo proposing reinterpretation of Title IX, a federal civil rights law that forbids sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. This reinterpretation would define gender as an immutable biological condition, determined by a person's sex organs at, or prior to, birth. In response, Catherine E. Lhamon, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is quoted by The New York Times as stating, “This takes a position that what the medical community understands about their patients – what people understand about themselves – is irrelevant because the government disagrees.”  The proposed reinterpretation would seriously undermine protections for transgender individuals.

We do not know whether this proposed reinterpretation of Title IX will go forward, but I surely hope not. I wish to take this opportunity to state unequivocally that RIT strongly opposes any change in Title IX that would result in the elimination of protections for transgender individuals. I join fellow university presidents, including Robert Barchi (Rutgers), Rebecca Blank (U. of Wisconsin), and Christopher Eisgruber (Princeton) in expressing this concern.

RIT remains committed to fostering a campus climate that acknowledges the dignity of every member of our community.  We are proud of our exceptional inclusivity and our commitment to supporting a pluralistic, diverse campus community. Our policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment can be found on the University Policies webpage.

We thank OUTspoken and the Student Government for raising this issue. We are with you in solidarity!

David C. Munson Jr.

President, RIT