Executive Director Update - March 2, 2017

The Trump Administration clearly missed an opportunity to provide leadership on an important issue facing our country when it decided to rescind the Department of Education's guidance aimed at protecting transgender students. In the same way that Title IX provided access to educational opportunities for women, the previous administration's guidance on working with transgender students opened up protections and opportunities for all students. Since the federal government has chosen to abandon its role in protecting transgender student rights, it is clear that the higher education community and associations such as AACRAO need to fill this leadership void and reaffirm our commitment to civil rights and inclusion. 

AACRAO's commitment to support transgender students preceded the Obama administration's 2016 guidance.  In 2012, AACRAO created a task force on Gender Identity Recognition to evaluate methods of collecting, recording, and reporting gender identity on our campuses. AACRAO moved its 2017 Technology and Transfer Conference from Charlotte, North Carolina, to New Orleans in response to the passage of House Bill 2 that banned cities in North Carolina from enacting legislation protecting their LGBTQ citizens.  

In the fall of 2016, AACRAO established the Student Identity Work Group to 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. More than 180 AACRAO members offered to serve on this work group indicating the strong commitment of our membership to serving transgender students. The workgroup continues AACRAO's commitment to providing best practices, education, and overall awareness in promoting and sustaining cultures of inclusion across higher education.

This year's Annual Meeting in Minneapolis April 2-5 will feature a series of presentations and discussions on transgender issues, including a plenary session by Nicole Maines from HBO's The Trans List who will share her journey as a transgender woman. We have established a resource page on the AACRAO web site to inform our members.

We are disappointed by the actions of the current administration. But irrespective of any future directives (or lack thereof), AACRAO will continue to lead and help develop in our membership the core competency of diversity and inclusion where we "value and foster an environment that ensures respect, support and safety for all members of their campus and professional communities, and actively promote the expansion of ideas, perspectives, and understanding that comes from a diverse and inclusive community."

Michael Reilly