On Wednesday night, the University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Senate passed legislation which will advocate for further LGBTQIA+ rights at the University.
The bill, entitled A Statement of Position Regarding the Rights of Queer and Trans Students at UConn, advocates for UConn administration and staff to review current policies and make necessary changes that LGBTQIA+ students and allies have brought to their attention. This legislation aims to hold the UConn community accountable for intentional or unintentional microaggressions toward the LGBTQIA+ community.
The areas covered in the legislation are names and pronoun rights, housing rights, mental health rights, bodily autonomy rights and accountability for gender-based oppression. USG Senator Will Schad, a sixth-semester political science major, said it’s meant to be a living document, updated to include more advocacy as needed.
“My idea for this legislation is a grand list of many demands by queer folks on the campus to get them better represented and their rights protected,” Schad said. “I think it will be effective as a living document to be used next year to spearhead the advocacy on behalf of our queer students.”
One of the authors, second-semester student Nell Srinath, said the bill is merely pushing for further university administration accountability, not policing or criminalizing behavior, which was a concern brought up in discussion.
“Solidarity, empathy and connection with our fellow student body is what will create the culture that mitigates violence, microaggressions or any other infraction against queer and trans students on campus. Solidarity is what brings us all together and will address a lot of concerns.”Nell Srinath, second semester student
“A wholehearted commitment to these goals is what will, in the end, mitigate the risk of radicalizing people against our queer and trans community,” Srinath said. “I think being able to look at these goals and try our best to understand them and why [the LGBTQIA+ community has] them in mind, is very important.”
Srinath added, “Solidarity, empathy and connection with our fellow student body is what will create the culture that mitigates violence, microaggressions or any other infraction against queer and trans students on campus. Solidarity is what brings us all together and will address a lot of concerns.”
The bill passed with an overwhelming majority. Senator Kazi Iqbal, a fourth-semester music teacher education major, said the bill hopes to bring many issues facing the queer and trans community to light. Whether it be issues like minimal gender-inclusive housing, dead naming by professors and staff or a lack of gender options on campus forms, students need a forum from which to be heard.
“I strive for opening up these conversations and having that space to understand why pronouns are important or why it’s important to respect these identities,” Iqbal said. “Some people might think that censuring will push people to one side, but that’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to open the space up and educate.”