Office of the President

Meetings: 2002 (12.9) | The President’s Commission for LGBT Issues

Meeting Minutes from Monday, December 9, 2002

Paul Dillon, Vicky Foxworth, Deborah Grandner, Sandra Greer, Nancy Harris, Luke Jensen, Marilee Lindemann, Nichole Maiman, Michael Marcuse, Raul Medina, Linda Valli, Robert Waters, Nancy Yeroshefsky Guests: Sarah Messer, Jessica Xavier, Trisha Schlusser

I. Updates

  • Senate HR Committee proposal: Vicky Called Gay Gulickson with the Commission’s endorsement for the proposal to include “gender identity or expression” in to the HR Code, and urged that it be presented to the Senate Executive Committee. Qualitative climate study for LGBT faculty and staff: Organizational Development Specialist Laura Scott and Joan Bellsey from the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program met today to discuss information gathered from the November Commission meeting. They will meet with Vicky and Luke early next week to discuss next steps. Vicky’s semester meeting with President Mote: this meeting will be rescheduled due to last Thursday’s snowstorm and school closing.
  • Free State invitation: Nichole will contact Free State Justice with an invitation to attend the Commission’s January meeting.

II. “Guidelines” Project

  • Subcommittees: The purpose of these subcommittees is to look at the drafted guidelines from last year and make any applicable changes. These committees met during the Commission meeting and proposed changes to the drafts; Nichole will update the guidelines from Commissioners’ suggestions.
    • Guidelines for the Recruitment and Retention of LGBT Faculty and Exempt Staff (including deans, department chairs, and directors of major units):
      • Mark Brimhall Sandra Greer Jim Harris Marilee Lindemann Michael Marcuse Martha Nell Smith Linda Valli
      • Daryle Williams

      Guidelines for the Recruitment and Retention of LGBT Non-Exempt Staff (including orientation/programs offices and other offices with significant student hires):

      • Paul Dillon Nancy Harris Karen Kimmel Patty Wang
      • Nancy Yeroshefsky
    • Guidelines for the Recruitment and Retention of LGBT Students:
      • Roger Candelaria Deb Grandner Elizabeth Hagovsky Raul Medina Ash Phillips Ian Savoy
      • Karen Schifler
  • The Commission then discussed how to disseminate the guidelines.
    • Vicky discussed the Personnel website, which now lists a new set of campus guidelines for search and selection procedures and already incorporates many of the ideas and resources drafted by the Commission last year. The website could update their information with these revised guidelines. Rob proposed that the Commission present the finished guidelines at an Equity Council meeting, with those guidelines then conveyed to members’ respective departments. These guidelines can also be mailed to deans, directors, and department chairs.
    • The Commission might also consider presenting the guidelines at college administrative council meetings.

III. Special Guests on Transgender Issues
Vicky welcomed the Commission’s special guests on transgender issues: Jessica Xavier, UM alumna in Government & Politics (1981) and representative from Washington, D.C.’s Whitman Walker Clinic; and Sarah Messer, doctoral candidate in Physics.

  • Jessica Xavier described the law’s prohibition of discrimination on sexual orientation, but not gender identity or expression. While sexual orientation may be disguised, transgender people often have appearances difficult to conceal, and therefore are more likely to be subject to ridicule, discrimination and violence.
  • New graduate student name withheld was surprised not to find gender-related language in UM’s non-discrimination policy. She stated that while many administrations – including Prince Georges County – think that gender language is political correctness gone wild, fifteen Fortune500 companies already include “gender identity or expression” in their hiring policies. She also mentioned that transitioning and coming out on campus is surrounded by a climate of fear because gender expression is a large cause of violence in today’s society; many transgender people suffer from depression and substance abuse, and some even commit suicide.
  • Sarah Messer discussed her own transition, which took place four years ago on the UM campus. Professors, staff, and colleagues within the Physics department were generally very supportive, even though there was some minor harassment and heckling behind her back. The UM Registrar and Legal Aid Office were also very helpful and transgender-friendly. In addition, Sarah discussed precautionary anti-violence measures taken by the Transgender Education Association of Washington, D.C.: in order to find out when and where a meeting will take place, you must sign a form that states you will not disclose meeting information to anyone else, and that, outside of the meeting, you will act as if you do not know anyone attending. She finally stressed that while the majority of this panel were male-to-female transsexuals, there are almost an equal number of female-to-male (they usually come out of the lesbian community).

Residence Life’s Deborah Grandner assured the panel that if a transgender person came to her for support that they would discuss various options and work to accommodate the student’s wishes. Even though there is no official policy regarding gender identity or expression in the UM non-discrimination policy, Residence Life would most likely give the student priority for certain residence units, including single rooms with private bathrooms and suite and apartment style residences.

Universities currently with strong gender-related language in their non-discrimination policies include Rutgers University, the State Universities of New York, and the Universities of Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota. Jessica strongly urged the Commission to contact these schools in order to gather information on phasing gender language into UM’s policies and procedures.

IV. Action Items

  • Vicky will reschedule her bi-annual meeting with President Mote. Nichole will contact Free State with an invitation to attend the Commission’s January meeting. Nichole will update the Hiring and Retention Guideline drafts from Commissioners’ suggestions.
  • Vicky will contact name withheld regarding her interest in becoming a Commission member.