Local/State

UNC Board overturns gender-neutral housing

Friday, August 09, 2013

The UNC Board of Governors voted Friday to overturn a policy that would have allowed students of the opposite gender to share housing in some areas of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The measure passed without discussion.

Gender-neutral housing is backed by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, who say it's about safety. They argue gay or transgender students are often bullied and harassed in traditional campus housing.

A small group of protestors showed up for Friday's vote. They told ABC11 the timing of Friday's decision put them at a disadvantage because it made it harder to rally opposition with most students being out of town until classes begin August 17.

"Gender-neutral housing would make it possible for LGBT students to have a safer place to lay their head down at night - a  basic need that the UNC system should meet," said Anthony Dondero, president of the UNC Charlotte student group Trans*Port in a statement.

UNC Chapel Hill's Board of Trustees approved gender-neutral housing last year. The pilot program would have affected two dorms and an apartment complex. It would have allowed students of the opposite gender to live in a group of dorm rooms that share a common bathroom or share a campus apartment together.

At the time of the trustees vote, Chancellor Holden Thorp said the move was vital to protecting the safety of UNC-Chapel Hill students.

There were several attempts in the General Assembly this session to overturn UNC's policy, but none of the bills passed. The measure passed by the Board of Governor's Friday mirrored one of the proposed bills in the NC Senate.

Opponents of the gender-neutral policy claimed most parents don't want their children living with people of the opposite sex without their input.

"With this uniform policy, our public universities and colleges can get back to the business of educating our students and preparing them to be productive members of our society, instead of promoting co-habitation among students of the opposite sex," said Tami Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the NC Values Coalition in a statement put out after Friday's vote.  

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