The University of North Dakota is responding to criticism over a draft policy university officials say aims to make the campus more inclusive.
The policy would require the use of a transgender person’s preferred pronouns and the use of locker rooms, bathrooms and other living facilities aligning with a person’s gender identity.
North Dakota’s Catholic Conference director issued a letter to parents of students earlier this week saying the policy restricts freedom of speech and religion.
University officials say the policy would not put students in living arrangements either felt uncomfortable with, and students would not face a violation for something that doesn’t legally qualify as discrimination.
UND President Andrew Armacost says students have reported discrimination based on gender identity, but the university has not received formal complaints on the issue.
During a virtual press conference Friday, Armacost said the policy will undergo further input in a process expected to take months, including input from students on campus.
“One came in fact as recently as yesterday from a transgender woman on campus who told her experience with extreme gender identity discrimination that she faced on our campus, and most importantly the devastating impact that it had on her,” Armacost said.
Armacost says that input, in addition to federal law adding gender identity as a protected class for discrimination, has prompted the policy proposal.
UND, which is in Grand Forks, is the first university in the state’s public university system to draft such a policy.