AACRAO explores gender identity issues

This week launches a set of activities within the association to explore issues and best practices around student identity that impact the policies and practices of our member institutions and the students they serve. These activities are a continuation of conversations taking place at AACRAO for a number of years.

In November of 2012, a board-appointed task force on Institutional Gender Identity Recognition submitted a report with a series of recommendations.  A 60-second survey from March 2015 indicated that the ability to track student identity preference was a hot and active topic for many institutions at that time. Several institutions indicated that the topic was under active discussion on their campus and/or about to be implemented as a change in practice.  There have been several well-attended sessions on gender identity recognition at AACRAO meetings over the last few years.

Upcoming activities include:

  • A professional development webinar. The free webinar "Best Practices for Recording Gender Identity/Expression & Preferred Names in Enrollment Services will be held Tuesday, November 22nd  at 2pm ET. For live or archived viewing, register for the webinar now.
  • Member engagement. Over the next year, AACRAO will work to educate and engage members on their institutional responsibilities on this topic in regard to compliance, identify leading practices at member institutions, and engage our vendor partners to impact change. This work will provide a framework for inclusive conversations to guide AACRAO members as they navigate these issues on their campuses. 
  • Association-level awareness and sensitivity. Inclusivity around gender expression has been a topic of discussion at AACRAO for some time; Diversity and Inclusion have been identified as a Core Professional Competency of the association. The professional competencies developed by AACRAO include the following tenent: "Diversity and inclusion are integral to all aspects of admissions, registrar, and enrollment management, and this proficiency focuses on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to fully integrate such principles in all aspects of personal and professional practice." AACRAO’s recent change of venue of the Tech/Transfer conference from Charlotte to New Orleans, coupled with the significant and recent national attention to issues of inclusion of gender identity within educational settings gives the association an opportunity to move forward on a topic that has been under examination by our members for a number of years. 
  • Advocacy. In May of this year, the Departments of Education and Justice provided significant guidance to institutions in the form of a Dear Colleague letter that makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student's gender identity as the student's sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.  This guidance means that institutions will have to grapple with these issues in the coming year. AACRAO recently wrote a response to that letter, which you can read here.

Given compliance issues, the need for technical assistance and engagement with vendor platforms, and the stated AACRAO Values that promote inclusiveness within the expected Principles and Standards of Behavior, it seems appropriate for the association to support both members and the students they serve as they navigate these complex issues on their campuses.

Working through this conversation with members will serve the association's goals by addressing this emergent issue [Strategic Framework Item 1] identifying and promoting best practices [Strategic Framework Item 2], advancing engagement in federal policy development [Strategic Framework Item 3], and promoting access and success for the impacted student population [Strategic Framework Item 4].

Call for volunteers – Student Identity Work Group 

AACRAO is looking for members to serve on a short-term work group to develop national guidelines and procedures for the implications of treating a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for the purpose of enforcing Title IX.

The Student Identity Work Group will develop guidance for AACRAO members and their institutions on serving transgender students and students who wish to update their gender marker, change their legal name, use a preferred name, or designate a pronoun.  In addition, the Work Group will develop guidance on appropriate methods of collecting, recording, and reporting of name and gender identity in student record systems. In addition, the guidance will consider impacts for other campus offices including but not limited to student financial aid, identity management (CIO), student housing, and student life. This guidance will be submitted to the AACRAO President for review by the AACRAO Board of Directors. 

The work group will be chaired by Dr. Joseph Salomone, Executive Director and University Registrar at Drexel University and Chair of the AACRAO LGBTQ Caucus.  Jack Miner, University Registrar & Executive Director of Enrollment Services at The Ohio State University and AACRAO Vice President of Finance will represent the Board of Directors.  The work group will begin December 2016 through November 2017 and requires representation from all aspects of our profession:  admissions officers, registrars, enrollment managers; two-year and four-year institutions; public and private; regionally diverse members. Additionally, the work group will consist of one ex-officio member from the National Center for Transgender Equality.  

If you feel your expertise will benefit the membership, apply here by November 25, 2016. 

For more information, to include a tentative timeline of work group deliverables, visit the Trending Topic page.