Transgender Student Sues University of Arkansas
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
May 13 2012 11:19 AM ET
By all accounts, Jennifer Braly is a good student. The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith psychology major carries a 3.58 GPA, according to the Arkansas Times, and has been a popular guest lecturer in psychology and sociology classes. Braly, 36 years old and transgender, has given about 20 faculty-sanctioned lectures on gender dysphoria, and at least one professor has written her a letter of recommendation saying Braly's talks "open the doors to a greater understanding and appreciation of this too often misunderstood disorder."
But, according to both the Times and the student newspaper, the Lion's Chronicle, Braly was recently forbidden by school administrators to give any more guest lectures, even when the professors have requested her to do so. Several professors supported Braly, one even cancelling her class instead of hosting it without the student lecturer. Braly, who sued the university earlier this year for discrimination in both restroom and housing policies, thinks the ban on her speaking to classes may be a way for the university to silence criticism of their transgender policies.
Administrators have vehemently denied that and, according to the Arkansas Times, posted a slightly amended statement on the university website, which read, "While there were miscommunications among UAFS officials, the course instructor, the student who was scheduled to present on the gender identity disorder issue as well as students in the class, the cancellation of the class had absolutely nothing to do with the subject or the student's status. In fact, this student has been allowed to speak in several classes in the past on gender identity disorder and will be allowed to do so in the future. We are currently working with this student, who seeks to utilize survey instruments as part of her presentation to gauge the views and opinions of other students, to obtain the appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and approval — a requirement that must be met prior to the use of any such survey, which will allow her to continue speaking to other classes and groups and surveying the classroom participants."
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