By Eliel Cruz
Originally published on Advocate.com June 04 2014 2:30 PM ET
The University of California system aims to become more aware of issues facing LGBT students, faculty, and staff, so president Janet Napolitano Tuesday announced the formation of an advisory group to offer guidance on how to make the UC system more LGBT-friendly and inclusive.
The President's Advisory Group on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues will work to realize the recommendations of the UC Task Force and Implementation Team on LGBT Climate & Inclusion, made Friday after the task force spent two years researching the campus climate for LGBT people.
That task force made eight recommendations to the president, including the creation of a special subcommittee to convene on issues concerning bisexuals of the UC system.
Among the task force members are Faith Cheltenham, president of BiNet USA; Raja Bhattar, director of the UCLA LGBT Resource Center; and Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
"The task force definitely feels we were heard," cochair Ralph J. Hexter, UC Davis provost and executive vice chancellor, said in a statement Tuesday. "The university is showing its commitment to being a leader in LGBT issues."
The task force recommendations include:
- Allowing voluntary collection of data on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression for students, faculty, and staff.
- Adjusting student record systems to enable students to self-identify with a preferred name.
- Developing and implementing a systemwide gender-inclusive restroom policy.
- Convening a subcommittee on bisexual community issues.
- Establishing an LGBT resource center at UC Merced and having each campus dedicate funding for an LGBT cultural competency specialist who provides awareness training to students, faculty and staff.
- Having each campus dedicate funding and infrastructure to support hiring a full-time counselor to provide psychological, education, and prevention services to LGBT students.
- Enhancing academic initiatives on gender and sexuality.
- Implementing a tax equalization program for employees in domestic partnerships who receive health benefits through UC’s health and wellness plans.
The implementation of these suggestions could result in radically inclusive changes. The UC system has 10 campuses across the state, with a combined student body of more than 230,000, including a vibrant LGBT community.
The goal of these changes is to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBT students, faculty, and staff of the entire University of California school system, according to Tuesday's announcement. That announcement did not include a specific timeline to implement the changes, but rather noted that Napolitano "will review the recommendations and respond at a future date."