Dr. Kruger responds to Dear Colleague letter rescinding transgender student protections

Dear Colleagues,

As we continue to watch troubling guidance and executive orders being issued from the Trump Administration, we want to assure our members and the higher education community that we are allied with you in opposition to any efforts that allow or institutionalize discrimination. Today's Dear Colleague Letter from the Departments of Education and Justice aims to roll back important protections for our trans students, colleagues and friends. The rescinding of the May 2016 Dear Colleague Letter moves our campuses in the wrong direction with respect to the goals of inclusivity and civility, potentially placing trans students in greater danger by forcing them to use facilities that do not match their gender identity.

Many of our institutional members have worked tirelessly since the May 2016 DCL was issued to update facilities and policies to support our trans students. Campuses have convened task forces and working groups to better understand the needs of their trans students and to address their challenges appropriately. We applaud the efforts of these campuses and today’s reversal doesn’t erase the incredible work that has been done to date on behalf of trans students. No data exist to support that all-gender restroom facilities endanger individuals or result in increased assaults; vigilantism around monitoring bathrooms, however, could increase harassment and violence in and around public restrooms.

The NASPA Board and staff recognize that the impact of this action will be immediately felt in the daily lives of our members, our campus communities, and the feelings of safety of our trans students, colleagues, friends, and allies. This action undermines NASPA’s values – but especially our commitment to integrity and inclusion. We will all need to be vigilant in the coming months to ensure that our trans colleagues and students are supported and able to access the facilities that they need on campus and in our greater communities. We are fortunate that many of our campuses have well established LGBTQIA Resource Centers which house incredible resource directories and staff who have spent their careers supporting our trans students, staff, and faculty. During times like these, we are prepared to provide opportunities to network with your colleagues who have these resources, and we are committed to mobilizing the expertise of those on our campuses and around the country to ensure the continued success of our trans students and colleagues.

In support of the outstanding efforts to better support trans students, NASPA is currently surveying campuses about the progress of their trans inclusive efforts. The findings from this survey, along with an overview of discriminatory trans bathroom legislation appearing in state legislatures across the country, are the focus of a session at the NASPA Annual Conference next month. The session, titled “Trans Inclusiveness on Your Campus: Challenges and Implications of Federal Guidance in the Current Political Climate,” will take place on Monday, March 13 from 11:15 a.m. - 12:05 p.m. in the Convention Center, 206A. For more information on how to talk to your campus about all-gender restrooms, NASPA recommends the resource “Talking About Transgender People and Restrooms,” published by a consortium of LGBTQIA rights organizations.

We stand ready to support our members and campuses in refuting claims that trans student rights pose safety concerns and seeking instead to foster environments of equity and non-discrimination in our communities. We encourage you to reach out with both concerns and resources as we collectively monitor the ripple effects that this action will have on our campuses and in our country as a whole. Please know that we share your distress, but also your determination to take a stand against all forms of discrimination. 

In solidarity and support, 

Kevin Kruger