On December 6, the UBC Board of Governors approved an amendment to UBC Policy #3 (Discrimination and Harassment) to include “gender identity or expression.”
The change reflects the amendments made to the BC Human Rights Code on July 26, 2016. Prior to the change, gender non-conforming and transgender individuals were protected under the ground of “sex”, as interpreted by BC’s Human Rights Tribunal and the courts. By explicitly adding gender identity or gender expression as grounds for protection, BC aligned its Code with human-rights legislation across Canada.
Dr. Mary K. Bryson, Chair of the Trans, Two-Spirit and Gender Diversity working group, proposed the amendment to Policy #3 during the October 5, 2016 meeting of the Vice-President Strategic Implementation Committee for Equity & Diversity. Dr. Bryson said of the amendment, “Adding ‘Gender Identity or Expression’ as named grounds to Policy #3 provides an important reparative opportunity to UBC to be more explicit in the protections it affords. It provides clarity to all members of UBC stakeholder groups to know that they are protected, without a doubt.”
What does this mean for UBC?
The update to the BC Human Rights Code was long overdue and UBC has now brought its policy in line. The work at UBC is ongoing for those who are committed to raising awareness about gender diversity, and building inclusive classrooms and workplaces. Research in the K-12 education system as well as in university settings tells us that barriers inside and outside of the classroom remain high.* Simple courtesies of referring to students by their preferred name or pronoun are inconsistently practiced, even resisted. Classroom environments and social spaces on campus can be experienced as unwelcoming or hostile. UBC has a number of leading initiatives currently underway in our teaching, research, programmes and services.
- The UBC Faculty of Education’s Teacher Education for All! project focuses on intersectional approaches to sexual and gender diversity and pedagogical approaches.
- Elizabeth Saewyc leads a team of health researchers who work in partnership with the Trans Care BC program at the Provincial Health Services Authority to improve the delivery of services to trans people who are interested in accessing gender-affirming surgeries.
- The Equity & Inclusion Office leads multiple educational and strategic initiatives focused on gender identity and expression for students, staff and faculty.
What can you do?
UBC is committed to building inclusive and respectful learning, living and working environments. We must all take responsibility to ensure that the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming members of our community are protected and respected. You can:
- Use preferred names and pronouns. Consider supporting the No Big Deal campaign
- Attend a Positive Space workshop
- Speak up when you hear people being disrespectful or discriminatory
- Host a Trans Literacies workshop for faculty and TA’s
- Highlight the location of single user gender-neutral bathrooms in your building
- Consider the sex and gender categories you use on forms – is everyone included?
- Be an advocate for your trans students, colleagues, and friends.
Sullivan, Rachael E. Place of promise? Queer students’ negotiation of risk, danger, and safety at the University of British Columbia (2012), Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Faculty of Graduate Studies (Sociology) dissertation, University of British Columbia.
Tate, Jude, A thin veil of inclusion: sexual and gender minorities in Ontario Universities (2014), Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Higher and Adult Education, The Department of Leadership, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.
Taylor C., Peter T., Edkins T., Campbell C., Émond G., & Saewyc E. (2016). The National Inventory of School District Interventions in Support of LGBTQ Student Wellbeing: Final Report. Vancouver, BC: Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre, University of British Columbia.