BY MARIA VELOSO
Sheridan College is acknowledging gender diversity and accommodating unique communities on campus.
Nicole Balassone, a Human Resource student at Sheridan, noticed something unusual while she was filling out a form at the Health Centre on the Trafalgar Campus: instead of gender, the form asked her to write down her gender identity.
“I haven’t seen that before,” said Balassone. Sheridan has been quiet about these changes, and students who are now noticing are reacting. “I think it’s great that they’re considering all students. This is how things should be.”
In 2015, an LGBT+ club was formed at Sheridan called the Gay/Straight Alliance or the GSA. The club was meant to support LGBT+ students, as well as spread awareness and acceptance of queer youth. The club offered a safe space for students to support and advise each other without judgment.
Sheridan Sun‘s Sydney Borton recently wrote an article about universal bathrooms at Sheridan. The idea was introduced by the Centre for Equity and Inclusion, and was meant to meet needs of all people, hence the word universal.
These LGBT+ movements on campus are made possible through groups like the Gender and Sexual Diversity Taskforce (GSDT). This team comprises students and faculty members, and aims to identify the identify and cater to issues in relation to gender and sexual diversity on campus.
Humber College also has a gender diversity policy that aims to protect all members of the college community. The policy defines what is considered harassment and the consequences that should follow. The policy became effective on Feb. 10, 2015.
They also launched Humber’s Safe and Inclusive Washroom Campaign (SIW), which sponsored a series of posters in washrooms on their campuses. The posters read: “If you’re in a public washroom and you think someone’s gender does not match the sign on the door, follow these steps: 1) Don’t worry about it. They know where they belong.”
Murtaza Saleem, a Mobile Computing student at Sheridan and a member of the LGBT+ community, feels safer with these accommodations. “It’s all over the news: trans people becoming targets. The fact that there are places on campus where they can feel safe is huge,” said Saleem. “I have friends who identify as trans. They would probably want to go to the college that makes them feel welcome.”
Doris Yuhan Hu, a Business student at Sheridan, wants Sheridan to continue making progressive changes to their campuses.
“I went to Humber before and I liked how vocal they were being about their support,” said Yuhan Hu. “I think Sheridan should do the same.” Yuhan Hu wants to see Sheridan take bigger steps toward inclusivity. “Someone should bring back the support group.”
Discrimination against unique gender identities has been an on-going battle for the LGBT+ community. Organizations such as The Trevor Project have been fighting for equality, and providing support lines of LGBT+ youths.
“We need campaigns and stuff,” said Yuhan Hu. “There are LGBT+ students here and they need to be more visible.” Students are reacting positively to Sheridan’s awareness of gender diversity on campus.
“We just need to be louder in our support and acceptance,” said Yuhan Hu.