Washington, D.C. — August 27, 2007 — The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC), today released its 2007 GENIUS Index. The GENIUS Index (Gender Equality National Index for Universities & Schools) tracks and evaluates the efforts of colleges, universities, and K-12 school districts to prohibit discrimination and promote awareness of gender identity and expression in their policies. The report analyzes and enumerates non-discrimination policies, gender-neutral bathrooms, gender-neutral housing, and anti-harassment policies.
This is the second year that GenderPAC has published the GENIUS Index. The 2007 Index reflects a tremendous increase in response rate: 496 students, administrators, and alumni, representing 278 colleges and universities, responded to the survey, as compared to the 2006 Index which received 124 responses (81 schools). GenderPAC also noted an increase in the number of universities specifically banning discrimination based on gender identity or expression: 147 colleges and universities currently have such policies, as compared to 131 in 2006. More than 100 public K-12 school districts, encompassing thousands of individual schools, have extended similar protections to nearly 3.5 million children in 23 states.
Despite the fact that all eight Ivy League schools have inclusive non-discrimination policies, there were a few surprising omissions among "Top 25" schools: Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, all lack protections for gender nonconforming people.
"We applaud the new schools in GENIUS 2007 that stepped up to ensure a new kind of student equality. We are proud that there are more gender-based protections for all students at schools across the country," said Riki Wilchins, GenderPAC´s Executive Director. "At the same time, GenderPAC urges and expects that schools still without the protections will implement policies to ensure that their campuses are GenderSAFET – supportive, protective and equitable for all students, whether or not they fit expectations for masculinity or femininity."
"The issue of gender safety affects students of all genders and ages; whether we´re talking about an elementary school playground or an Ivy League campus, we see an ongoing epidemic of gender-based prejudice, discrimination, and violence," continued Wilchins. A recent GenderPAC survey found that, of 651 students currently enrolled at US-based colleges and universities, 30 percent have been harassed or discriminated against on campus because they didn´t fit expectations of masculinity or femininity; 13 percent have been harassed for using a restroom because they didn´t fit expectations of masculinity or femininity; and 25 percent have felt unsafe in campus housing because they didn´t fit expectations of masculinity or femininity.
GenderPAC also supported a University of Illinois study of 200 high school students in suburban Chicago. 62 percent of the students saw peers who weren´t masculine or feminine enough being called names and verbally harassed; 46 percent saw peers who weren´t masculine or feminine enough ostracized and excluded from groups; and 21 percent saw peers who weren´t masculine or feminine enough physically assaulted: pushed, shoved, or hit.
Students across the country have been mobilizing on their campuses to get the more inclusive policies and practices enacted. "The GENIUS Index supports our work with campus groups nationwide," said Brittney Hoffman, GenderPAC´s Youth Program Coordinator. "We work every day with student activists who are trying to create GenderSAFE campuses. Our GENIUS Action Tool Kit provides student activists with the resources necessary to organize on their own campuses, and in their communities, around these issues. We have 63 GenderYOUTH chapters across the country: that´s over 300 progressive student and youth leaders working to raise awareness about gender stereotypes, gender-motivated violence, and gender as a human rights issue."
The 2007 Index, including a complete list of identified institutions with gender identity/expression policies, can be viewed in its entirety at: www.gpac.org/genius/2007.pdf.
The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) works to ensure that classrooms, communities, and workplaces are safe for everyone to learn, grow, and succeed – whether or not they meet expectations for masculinity and femininity. To learn more about GenderPAC, please visit www.gpac.org.